A former Brooklyn prosecutor who pleaded guilty to using forged wiretap orders to eavesdrop on phone conversations of a fellow prosecutor and New York City police detective has been disbarred.
Tara Lenich, who began working with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in 2005 and was fired in 2016 after her surveillance operation came to light, pleaded guilty in April in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to two felony counts of illegal interception of communications.
Lenich admitted to obtaining wiretaps by cutting judges’ signatures from legitimate documents and pasting them on applications for wiretaps.
Lenich also gave false grand jury subpoenas to her targets’ phone providers and admitted to covering her tracks by lying to fellow prosecutors, saying her investigation was confidential and that only she had access to the wiretaps.
Though the targets of Lenich’s surveillance were not named in court papers, they were named in media reports as NYPD detective Jarrett Lemieux and fellow ADA Stephanie Rosenfeld.
In a ruling issued Friday, a panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department said the federal felony is similar to the New York charge of eavesdropping, a class E felony.
Under New York law, an attorney is automatically disbarred upon receiving a felony conviction, thus Lenich was effectively disbarred April 3.
Justices Randall Eng, William Mastro, Reinaldo Rivera, Mark Dillon and Colleen Duffy joined the unanimous decision.
Lenich is scheduled to be sentenced in the criminal case February, according to court documents.
Earlier this month, Rosenfeld filed suit against Lenich in the Eastern District alleging that, after news of the wiretaps broke, she endured “humiliating looks and behind-the-back comments” from colleagues at the office, and that she was forced to resign after 11 years there.
Rosenfeld said extensive media coverage of the case has made it difficult for her to find a new job.
In a victim impact statement to U.S. District Judge William Kuntz II of the Eastern District of New York, who presides over Lenich’s criminal case, regarding Lenich’s upcoming sentencing, Rosenfeld said she was in court when news of Lenich’s offenses broke and that she asked the judge and the defense attorney present to postpone the proceedings so as not to prejudice the defendant.
“Tara poisoned my workplace against me,” Rosenfeld said in the impact statement. Rosenfeld is bringing claims against Lenich under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the First and 14th amendments, as well as a claim of tortious interference with employment, and is seeking damages.
The Brooklyn DA’s office, which is not a party to the civil suit, declined to comment.
Rosenfeld is represented by Richard Emery and Samuel Shapiro of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.
Morris Fodeman, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati who represents Lenich in both the criminal and civil matters, declined to comment.