Cleaning the slate: Manhattan DA Bragg vacates 316 convictions obtained by nine cops found guilty of corruption

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg
Photo by Dean Moses

More than 300 convictions over a 21-year span — each linked to nine NYPD officers previously convicted of on-the-job corruption — were vacated Tuesday at the request of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

The vacated cases were reviewed by the Manhattan DA Office’s Post-Conviction Justice Unit (PCJU) and were part of a docket of more than 1,100 cases connected to 22 cops who were convicted of crimes themselves such as planting evidence, perjury, accepting bribes and violating civil rights. 

The vast majority of the 316 vacated cases, prosecutors said, were for misdemeanor charges; eight others were felonies. Fifty-seven of the convictions led to imprisonment, while another 132 resulted in fines, Bragg noted.

It’s the second time in eight months that Bragg’s office vacated a slate of cases tied to corrupt officers. Last November, his office cleared away 188 convictions tied to eight officers including Oscar Sandino, who had 19 of the 316 cases vacated Tuesday.

Sandino was previously convicted on federal charges of deprivation of civil rights for coercing two women in custody into sexual acts. He was sentenced in 2011 to serve two years behind bars and another year in supervised release.

Another 12 vacated cases involve Nicholas Mina, who was convicted in 2012 of stealing and selling guns from a police precinct, and ordered to serve 15 1/2 years in prison.

The convictions linked to the corrupt cops now come off the books, Manhattan’s chief prosecutor noted — even though significant damage has been done to each of the wrongfully accused and convicted.

“These cases represent hundreds of New Yorkers who have been living with the serious costs that come with a conviction, including barriers to employment, housing and education,” Bragg said in a June 6 statement. “Beyond these devastating impacts on the individuals directly impacted, our city is collectively harmed when we prevent our friends, family and neighbors from living stable and successful lives.”

The Legal Aid Society, New York County Defender Service of Harlem, and the Assigned Counsel Plan joined Bragg for the June 6 announcement. Elizabeth Felber, supervising attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Wrongful Conviction Unit, underscored Bragg’s message that vacating the convictions would help repair the lives of those impacted by them.

“While we hope that this moment delivers some justice and closure to the New Yorkers impacted by these tactics, the sad reality is that many were forced to suffer incarceration, hefty legal fees, loss of employment, housing instability, severed access to critical benefits and other collateral consequences.,” Felber said. “The Legal Aid Society urges DA Bragg and other local prosecutors to continue to conduct these reviews on a rolling basis with full transparency. The same lens used on our clients charged with criminal conduct must be applied to those in law enforcement. Anything less will erode the public’s trust in the criminal legal system to hold those accountable for egregious acts of misconduct.”

Other previously convicted officers connected to vacated cases Tuesday include the following:

  • Jason Arbeeny, 24 cases; he was convicted in 2011 of planting drugs on two individuals, and was ordered to serve five years’ probation and 300 hours of community service.
  • Johnny Diaz, 129 cases; he was convicted of accepting bribes and gifts from an undercover officer who posed as a drug dealer, and sentenced in 2018 to six years in prison.
  • Michael Arenella, 21 cases; he was convicted of accepting money from an undercover cop posing as a drug dealer, then using that money to pay an informant. Arenella was sentenced in 2009 to 160 hours of community service.
  • Michael Carsey, 26 cases; he was convicted in 2012 of lying under oath about information he obtained that led to an arrest. He was sentenced to a conditional discharge from duty, and ordered to perform 36 days of community service.
  • Richard Hall, 27 cases; he was convicted in 2019 of obtaining sexual favors from a 18-year-old woman to procure her release. Hall was ordered to serve five years’ probation.
  • William Eiseman, 56 cases; he was convicted in 2011 of providing false testimony and conducting unlawful searches. Eiseman was sentenced to three months behind bars, and five years’ probation.
  • Michael Foder, 2 cases; he was convicted in 2019 of lying under oath at a federal hearing, and ordered to serve three months in jail.