Nearly 450 Drug Convictions Reversed After Cops Were Framing Totally Innocent People

Gina Carrano | Courthouse News Service

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A Philadelphia man claims in court that he spent more than two years in jail on bogus drug charges because several city police officers conspired to plant false evidence in his car.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Leroy Gonzalez claims he was just one of many who have been framed by the narcotics officers who were acquitted of corruption charges after a federal jury trial in May 2015.

Prosecutors had alleged the men routinely beat and robbed drug suspects.

Following their acquittal, the officers went to arbitration and got their jobs back in July 2015, although one of the officers was forced to retire after he failed the mandatory drug test he had to submit to before returning to duty.

The allegations prompted dozens of civil rights lawsuits, causing the reversal of nearly 450 drug convictions. In October 2016, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond ordered the officers not to have contact with any former defendants who have sued them and the city over their arrests.

In his lawsuit, Leroy Gonzalez says he was wrongfully charged with drug possession and sales when the policeman “unlawfully and maliciously planted numerous items of false evidence in [his] vicinity to create the illusion of probable cause [and] justify their grossly illegal police misconduct.”

After his arrest, Gonzalez contends, he was charged with the crimes and served a 754-day sentence before hearing that three of the four officers who stopped him had been implicated in a corruption probe.

Facing jail time after being apprehended in a drug-related robbery, Officer Jeffrey Walker pointed the finger in court at colleagues Thomas Liciardello, Michael Spicer and Perry Betts, according to the complaint. He claimed that the trio was complicit in acts like producing fake evidence, conducting illegal drug stings and lying in testimonies, Gonzalez says.

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