(ANTIMEDIA) Brooklyn, NY — In a clear-cut case of abuse of authority, a former assistant district attorney in New York is now facing federal charges for allegedly using government resources to spy on a love interest.
“Tara Lenich, 41, was fired last November from her position as a high-ranking deputy chief of the Brooklyn DA’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau,” wrote the New York Post on Monday, “after she was arrested for allegedly having underlings listen in on conversations between an NYPD detective and a fellow prosecutor, who she believed were romantically involved.
“Lenich allegedly forged various judges’ signatures some 20 times over a year-long period in order to eavesdrop on Det. Jarrett Lemieux and her colleague Stephanie Rosenfeld-Vais, both of whom are married with two children.”
The former assistant district attorney apparently told the people working for her that communications gathered from the wiretaps were confidential, advising her employees not to listen to them. In addition to the illegal wiretapping, Lenich also created fraudulent search warrants that targeted the text messages of the two victims.
It’s unclear whether Lenich and Detective Jarrett were actually romantically involved or whether it was all in the former prosecutor’s head. Equally unclear is whether or not Jarrett and Rosenfeld-Vais were ever romantically linked.
Whatever the case, Lenich was busted when one of her staffers noticed Rosenfeld-Vais’ number on official paperwork and brought it to the attention of higher-ups. An investigation turned up a thumb drive containing records of the false court orders.
“As soon as these allegations were uncovered, we conducted a swift and thorough investigation, immediately terminating the employee, and ordered a complete review of our protocols and proceeded to make sure that this abuse of authority never happens again,” a spokesman for the then-district attorney said when Lenich was arrested last year.
At that arraignment, a former colleague of Lenich’s called what the woman did a “stunning betrayal of her oath of office and the justice system that we uphold.”
The bail for those state charges was $25,000. Lenich had been out awaiting trial but was thrown back in jail on Monday on new, federal charges — illegally intercepting oral and electronic communications. Bail was set at $500,000, which Lenich’s parents promptly paid.
In a statement, Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde said:
“Tara Lenich violated her duty to the public when she engaged in a long-running scheme to forge judicial documents in order to illegally wiretap telephones. Lenich’s prosecution reflects the Office’s commitment to protecting the public from the misuse of law enforcement tools, particularly by those entrusted to use those tools in accordance with the laws they have sworn to uphold.”
Lenich is next due in court on April 26. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.