Federal judge accepts guilty plea of former Brooklyn ADA in forging judges’ signatures
A former Brooklyn assistant district attorney could serve as many as 10 years in jail after she pleaded guilty to two charges of illegal wiretapping in front of Judge William Kuntz in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Monday.
Tara Lenich, 41, fought back tears as she pled guilty to two charges that she forged the signatures of judges in order to illegally wiretap the phones of two people, including one who was believed to be a love interest.
“Between 2015 and 2016, when I was working at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office here in Brooklyn, I intentionally forged court orders that allowed me to wiretap cellphones for two different people and overhear those conversations,” Lenich said while fighting back tears. “I knew the conduct was illegal and I would just like to apologize and say that I’m so sorry for my actions and anyone it affected.”
The maximum charge on each count carries five years in prison, which means Lenich could face up to 10 years in prison. She also faces a fine of up to $250,000. However, her defense attorneys believed that she may only get probation.
“We take comfort in knowing that Judge Kuntz will consider Ms. Lenich’s otherwise exemplary professional and personal life when she is sentenced,” said Morris J. Fodeman, defense attorney for Lenich.
“From the beginning, Ms. Lenich has wanted to fully accept responsibility for her actions in this case and wanted to plead guilty at the first opportunity,” Fodeman said.
The defense waived any right to discovery during the trial, so they couldn’t be certain, but Lenich did concede that charges in the indictment seemed correct.
According to that indictment, Lenich, while she worked as a deputy chief for special investigations, forged documents granting her permission to eavesdrop in on two different cellphones, including authorization for seizure of text messages transmitted from those phones. A total of 24 judicial orders were forged.
Although, they were not named in the indictment, multiple media reports indicated that the subject of Lenich’s wiretaps were fellow Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Rosenfeld-Vais and NYPD Detective Jarrett Lemieux. It is believed that Lenich had a relationship with Lemieux, or at least believed that she had one.
Lenich was formerly deputy chief for special investigations prior to her termination by the Brooklyn DA’s Office in November 2016. It is not believed that there was any malfeasance related to any of her other cases, but a spokesman for the Brooklyn DA’s Office did not return a request for comment.
No sentencing date has been set. Kuntz ordered a pre-sentencing investigation report to be delivered to his court on or before Oct. 3, 2017.
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