May 10, 2023 – Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah announced today that she will seek to vacate the convictions and charges of 27 individuals for their alleged drug sales to a Westchester County Police - Department of Public Safety undercover officer during a 2017 narcotics operation conducted by the Mount Vernon Police Department. The District Attorney cited a pattern of inconsistencies, errors and disclosure issues uncovered by the Conviction Review Unit she established early in her term (view the Conviction Review Unit report). DA Rocah also announced the conclusion of her criminal investigation into the MVPD Narcotics Division that was prompted by allegations of wrongdoing made by a former MVPD officer and heard on secret recordings.

DA Rocah said: “In light of the allegations made on the secretly-recorded conversations among various Mount Vernon police officers, as well as complaints from the public received by the District Attorney’s Office, my Conviction Review Unit conducted an exhaustive examination into certain Mount Vernon police narcotics prosecutions. The Conviction Review Unit’s review uncovered inconsistencies, reliability concerns, and significant disclosure issues that leave me unable to stand by the prosecutions connected to the Mount Vernon Police Department’s 2017 undercover narcotics operation. As a result, I will seek to vacate these convictions and dismiss the charges. Though rare, wrongful convictions erode community trust and the public’s faith in the criminal justice system.”

Thirty-two individuals were initially charged in the 2017 narcotics operation. Five people had their cases dismissed prior to the CRU’s review: three due to significant issues with the evidence, and two due to the individuals completing diversion programs. Of the remaining 27, 26 of which were resolved by pleas, 11 involved felony charges and will be brought before Judge George E. Fufidio in Westchester County Court; 16 involved misdemeanor charges and will be handled in Mount Vernon City Court. Among the cases stemming from the operation, 16 individuals served sentences from up to one year in jail or up to one-and-a half to four years in state prison. Another 10 received non-custodial sentences such as conditional discharges or probation, or their cases were covered by another case. One matter is still open. None are currently incarcerated. Defense counsel have been notified of the CRU’s findings.

DA Rocah’s separate criminal investigation into the MVPD Narcotics Division, prompted by the secret recordings, uncovered conduct and practices that led the District Attorney to request that the Department of Justice conduct a civil rights “pattern or practice” investigation, which it initiated in 2021. However, the recordings themselves are not admissible in court to prove the crimes discussed on them and could not alone support criminal charges. Although MVPD leadership offered and provided assistance with our investigation, without cooperation of certain Narcotics Division officers and civilians who would be key witnesses, charges could not be brought due to legally insufficient evidence to overcome the high burden of proof in criminal cases of beyond a reasonable doubt (view the Law Enforcement Integrity Bureau report).

“I understand that people may be confused and possibly even disappointed by the lack of criminal charges after hearing the secretly-recorded conversations among certain Mount Vernon police officers. We could not rely on the allegations contained on the recordings as evidence in a court of law. Additionally, our criminal investigation was hampered by significant hurdles, such as recantations by an officer who was heard on the recordings alleging corruption, and lack of cooperation by some law enforcement and key witnesses,” DA Rocah said. “As a result of this investigation, and the findings by my Conviction Review Unit, I am proud of the subsequent actions we have taken to help restore even a measure of public faith in our justice system.”


Anna Young, Public Information Officer
(914) 995-6551