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Perjury Frees Drug Dealer

It’s important to get your story straight, especially if you are a NYPD police detective. According to CBS News, changing testimony led to the arrest of Detective Abel Joseph. In fact, the charges against him, first-degree perjury, are felonies and could result in a prison sentence.

The detective is accused of falsifying testimony against an alleged PCP dealer. The case against the dealer had to be dropped because of it. The arrest of the Harlem drug dealer happened in 2010, but charges against Joseph were only handed down by a grand jury hearing the evidence recently. The allegation is that Detective Joseph told the grand jury about arresting the dealer. Initial testimony was that Joseph was unable to find the drug buyers before the arrest happened. But at trial he claimed there was uninterrupted surveillance (important to establish probable cause) and that he searched the buyers of the drugs and questioned them. This conflict in testimony between what the grand jury heard and what was said at a pre-trial hearing meant the drug dealer walked and led to perjury charges against Det. Joseph.

The really troubling thing about this case, should it be proven, is that an experienced police officer would change their testimony to make a stronger case against a defendant. What happens if they simply lie from the start? Without two versions of the story, no one would be the wiser – the police officer’s statements are usually considered very good evidence. We trust them not to “fudge” or skew what they put in their reports and say on the stand.

And while it is important to clean house and prosecute officers who lie, one of the consequences is that the case against the drug dealer is tossed out. The PCP came from somewhere, and now that matter can’t be addressed. The bad guy walks. Innocent until proven guilty.

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