by Chuck Sharman
Thanks to misconduct that has tainted the testimony of three now-fired New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) cops, the resulting convictions of 60 people will be vacated and expunged after a judge agreed to a request by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz on November 8, 2021.
Two of the former cops involved in the cases were convicted of perjury for lying about evidence in other cases they handled. The other was convicted of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct with arrestees.
“We cannot stand behind a criminal conviction where the essential law enforcement witness has been convicted of crimes which irreparably impair their credibility,” Katz admitted.
Her move came in response to a campaign begun in May 2021 by several organizations, including the Legal Aid Society and the Exoneration Project, to reopen criminal cases in which 22 former NYPD cops were involved, all of whom have since been convicted of crimes themselves.
Over half of the convictions expunged in Queens—34 in all—relied on testimony provided by a former NYPD detective convicted of perjury in 2018, Kevin Desormeau, who fabricated an alleged cocaine sale in Jamaica, Queens, which video evidence proved never took place.
Another 20 cases were linked to another former NYPD detective convicted of perjury in 2018, Sasha Cordoba, who made up facts in a gun possession case in the Washington Heights neighborhood.
The remaining half-dozen cases involved former NYPD Detective Oscar Sandino, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to sexual misconduct with six arrestees, including one he sexually assaulted in the bathroom of the 110th Precinct station in Queens.
The expungements follow 50 others obtained in April 2021 by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, when the former NYPD cop involved in all of them, Joseph Franco, was convicted of perjury in another case. The request for all 50 came from the Conviction Review Unit in Gonzalez’s office, created in 2014 by former D.A. Kenneth P. Thompson, who died of cancer in 2016 when Gonzalez was elected.
In Katz’s office, the same function is performed by a new Conviction Integrity Unit she created after her 2019 re-election.
Sources: Gothamist, the Root
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