Former Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Charged With Illegally Wiretapping Cellular Telephones
Defendant Forged Signatures of New York State Judges as Part of Unlawful Scheme to Eavesdrop on Phone Conversations and Read Text Messages
A two-count indictment was unsealed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Tara Lenich, a former supervisory Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (KCDA), with illegally intercepting oral and electronic communications occurring over two cellular telephones. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Vera M. Scanlon at the Brooklyn federal courthouse this afternoon.
The charges were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).
As alleged in the indictment, for nearly 16 months between approximately June 2015 and November 2016, Lenich created fraudulent judicial orders as part of her illegal wiretapping scheme. Specifically, she forged the signatures of multiple New York State judges onto the illicitly created judicial orders -- orders that purportedly authorized the KCDA to intercept communications occurring over two cellular telephones. Lenich then misappropriated KCDA equipment to intercept, monitor, and record the communications to and from the two cellular telephones. In furtherance of her scheme, Lenich also created fraudulent search warrants, which she then used to unlawfully obtain text messages relating to the two cellular telephones.
“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,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “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.” In announcing the indictment, Ms. Rohde thanked the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their cooperation.
“In this case, as alleged, Lenich's illegal wiretapping scheme demonstrates an abuse of power that won't be tolerated within our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, sometimes those close to the law stray far from the truth. As demonstrated today, however, everyone is expected to play by the rules; for this we'll make no exceptions,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces up to five years’ imprisonment on each count.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Robert Polemeni and Maria Cruz Melendez are in charge of the prosecution.
New York, NY
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-154