from the propping-up-the-Drug-War-with-bogus-busts dept
Fighting crimes is easier when it’s not being done by criminals. A bunch of cases are being tossed in New York City because misbehaving NYPD officers left their dirty handprints all over them.
Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz is asking a state supreme court judge to vacate the cases of 60 people which their cases were based on the police work of three former NYPD detectives who were later convicted of various crimes.
This adds to the NYPD’s list of self-inflicted wounds. Earlier this year, prosecutors tossed nearly 100 cases tainted by the presence of narcotics detective Joseph Franco. Franco was charged with 26 criminal counts — including perjury and official misconduct — in 2019. The dismissals followed another investigation which showed Franco had lied about drug buys to secure warrants and perform arrests. Some arrestees were able to get their cases dismissed by obtaining security camera footage showing alleged drug purchases had never occurred.
One lying cop and nearly 100 dismissals. Now this: three bad cops and 60 dismissals. And these cops have some pretty impressive rap sheets.
Former NYPD Detective Kevin Desormeau was convicted of perjury after lying about witnessing a drug sale that videotaped evidence showed did not take place. He also pleaded guilty after he fabricated the facts of a gun possession arrest. Desormeau was terminated by the NYPD and there are 34 cases the district attorney says should be dismissed based on his role as the essential witness.
Former NYPD Detective Sasha Cordoba pled guilty in Manhattan to perjury relating to her fabricating the facts of a gun possession arrest. Cordoba was terminated by the NYPD. 20 cases will be requested to be dismissed based on Cordoba’s role as the essential witness.
The third cop involved in these dismissals at least wasn’t in the perjury business. No, he was into darker stuff.
As alleged in court filings by the government, in February 2008, Sandino arrested a woman identified in the Information as Jane Doe 1 (“the victim”) and her boyfriend on drug distribution charges following the execution of a search warrant at their apartment. During the arrest, Sandino forced the victim to undress in front of him in the bedroom of the apartment. Later, at the precinct, Sandino told the victim that she was going to jail and would lose her children unless she had sex with him. When the victim went to the restroom at the precinct, Sandino followed her inside and made her perform oral sex. Upon the victim’s release from custody, Sandino told her that he expected her to have sex with him at a later time. Thereafter, Sandino called the victim on numerous occasions. The victim subsequently reported Sandino’s misconduct to NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which began an investigation. In March 2008, Sandino was removed from active duty.
As further alleged in the government’s court filings, Sandino engaged in similar misconduct in the summer of 2006 in connection with the arrest of another drug dealer. On that occasion, Sandino coerced a female cousin of the drug dealer, identified in the Information as Jane Doe 2, to engage in sex acts with him based on threats he made concerning the lengthy prison sentence faced by the drug dealer.
More recently, in September 2009, Sandino allegedly engaged in lewd sexual behavior in front of a female arrestee and then forced her to raise her shirt to expose her upper body.
Sandino was fired by the NYPD in 2011, one year after he racked up this federal indictment. Somehow, he’s still involved with six convictions now being tossed out because of his role as a witness. That means six people have spent a long time in jail due to this bad cop’s testimony that was apparently given more than a decade ago.
It’s good to see all three cops are listed as “former.” But it is concerning that someone like Sandino managed to remain a law enforcement officer for thirteen years when it was likely apparent long before his indictment that he was abusing his power. Meanwhile, Detective Desormeau’s misconduct has affected cases dating as far back as 2014, which potentially means someone lost most of a decade as the result of a bad cop’s statements in court.
The repeal of a state law that effectively denied access to police misconduct records for decades means those overseeing the NYPD — which includes city prosecutors that frequently rely on their testimony — can no longer effectively pretend the department isn’t home to a number of bad apples. Expect more of this in the near future as this long-delayed transparency forces city officials and, hopefully, the NYPD itself, to take officer misconduct more seriously. But while we wait for a police accountability ideal that may never arrive, we can at least take some satisfaction in these reversals of unjustly obtained criminal court “wins.”