New York City has been sued over an arrest made by a detective with the New York Police Department (NYPD) who has been tied to more than 300 dismissed cases.
The suit filed against the officer as well as the city alleges malicious prosecution, false arrest and other constitutional violations and is seeking unspecified damages.
One of more than 400 New Yorkers whose convictions were tossed following a review of cases handled by the NYPD detective accused of lying has sued the city, saying a bogus arrest in 2013 destroyed his livelihood.
Sterling Medine, 32, claims in his wrongful arrest lawsuit that he’s another victim of narcotics Det. Joseph Franco, who was indicted in 2019 for perjury and false statements.
Medine pleaded guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance in 2013, but the conviction was overturned last year due to prosecutors’ lack of trust in Franco.
Medine told the Daily News he spent $100,000 opening his cellphone store, Soft Touch Wireless, on Morris Ave. in the Bronx. But his dreams of running his own business were shattered in 2013 when Franco alleged that Medine sold him drugs during an undercover operation and arrested him outside his own store, according to the lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on March 8.
Medine says he — and his business — were victims of Franco’s fabrications.
“I took all my savings, everything I ever saved to open up this store,” he told the Daily News. “It was real hard for me to just let that go.”
Medine was hanging out in Soft Touch Wireless in the afternoon on Aug. 15, 2013 when undercover officer Franco asked if he could buy some “flacko.” Medine didn’t respond, according to the suit. The shop owner walked outside to smoke a cigarette when he was arrested by Franco, Det. Gary Porter and other cops, he says in the suit.
Medine says he realized later that cops had taken about $20,000 in cash from his store — which operated mostly in cash transactions. The money was forfeited in the case and never returned to Medine.
In 2021, Bronx DA Darcel Clark asked a judge to throw out Medine’s conviction based on Franco making the arrest, the suit says. Medine insists the charges were made up.
Franco, 50, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Manhattan of lying on the stand in three unrelated drug cases.
He was fired from the NYPD in 2020. His attorney did not respond to an inquiry. The criminal case is still pending.
The city Law Department did not respond to an inquiry.