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Brooklyn DA to Vacate Hundreds of Convictions Prosecuted With Help of Corrupt Cops

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office will vacate hundreds of convictions that were secured based on testimony from corrupt cops, including NYPD narcotics officers who planted drugs on innocent suspects. On Wednesday, 47 cases of felony were dismissed. Prosecutors also visited Brooklyn Criminal Court to seek the abolition of 331 misdemeanor convictions.

This case involves 13 NYPD officers who have been convicted while they were on duty. Most of the drug-related convictions that were to be overturned involved illegal acts, including placing drugs on suspected officers or providing narcotics for confidential informants. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said on Wednesday that while a review did not reveal misconduct in the cases to be vacated, his prosecutors “no longer have confidence” in the work of the tainted cops.

“These former police officers were found to have committed serious misconduct that directly relates to their official job duties, calling into question the integrity of every arrest they have made,” Gonzalez said. “A thorough review by my Conviction Review Unit identified those cases in which their testimony was essential to proving guilt, and I will now move to dismiss those convictions as I no longer have confidence in the integrity of the evidence that underpinned them.”

Corrupt Brooklyn Drug Squad Cases

One-third of all the cases dismissed involved Jerry Bowens’ testimony. He is currently serving a 40 year sentence for murder in which he killed his girlfriend. He stole illegally from suspects crack and gave the drug to an informant to get information. This was while he was assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics Division in 2008. In 2009, while waiting for trial in the corruption case he killed and seriously injured his girlfriend.

Bowens, one of the four Brooklyn South Narcotics officers who were convicted in an enormous corruption scandal, was Bowens. Over half of all cases scheduled for dismissal included testimony by the officers.

Jason Arbeeny (a Brooklyn South Nacotics officer convicted of misconduct and other charges in connection to the planting of drugs in 2007), was the reason 14 more cases were dropped. Sean Johnstone, a Brooklyn South Nacotics officer was also convicted for conspiring to pay informants with drug money. Gonzalez requested dismissal of 40 cases based upon his testimony.

Tinted Convictions Caused Prison Time

Gonzalez and Legal Aid Society both noted that most of these cases ended in imprisonment time.

“These convictions continue to hang around people and impact them in all kinds of ways,” Gonzalez said. “Had we known about these officers, we would never have brought these cases.”

Elizabeth Felber of the Legal Aid Society commended Gonzalez’s move to dismiss the cases and noted that many of those convicted have suffered ongoing repercussions of their criminal record. As a matter policy, she urged the prosecutors not to forget past convictions.

“While we applaud this decision, the people prosecuted in these cases were forced to endure hardships that should never have happened to begin with,” said Felber. “Some individuals lost years of their lives serving prison sentences and many suffered collateral harm including housing instability, loss of employment, and severed access to critical services, all because of the words of these corrupt police officers.”

“We urge DA Gonzalez and all of the other New York City District Attorneys to conduct these reviews on an ongoing basis and with full transparency, not just in response to public pressure, but as their duty to ‘do justice.’ To do otherwise erodes the public’s trust in law enforcement and the criminal legal system,” Felber continued.

The Brooklyn DA’s office spent 10 months reviewing hundreds of cases that the disgraced police officers had participated in, marking for dismissal those in which testimony from the former cops was the primary evidence presented to the court. Prosecutors said about 100 convictions were kept in place based on other evidence that corroborated the former officers’ testimony.