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A prosecutor in the Brooklyn district attorney's office was arrested on Monday. Her crime? Love.
Well, love, plus allegedly forging judges' signatures to fake their approval of an illegal wiretap she used to spy on a police detective and a fellow prosecutor as part of a messy "love triangle gone wrong."
A Year and a Half of Illicit Surveillance
Tara Lenich, a high-ranking prosecutor, is accused of illegally spying on the detective and another assistant district attorney as part of "a personal entanglement between her and the detective," a law enforcement official told the New York Times. Lenich had been deputy chief of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau at the D.A.'s office, which often uses wiretaps to spy on gangs and drug traffickers.
Lenich is accused of repeatedly forging judges' signatures in order to keep her illicit surveillance of the detective and prosecutor going. The scheme went on for a year and a half, according to the New York Daily News.
Lenich deflected suspicion from other prosecutors by saying she was working on an investigation for the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau and that only she could have access to the wiretap.
She was fired on Monday, following her arrest.
Could Lenich's Alleged Behavior Jeopardize Other Cases?
Alright, so you have a high-ranking prosecutor, who regularly uses wiretaps, allegedly forging judges' signatures and illegally spying on her love interests and rivals for a year and a half before being caught. That doesn't give one much confidence about the wiretap system as a whole.
"The public should have a tangible fear of this," Brooklyn defense attorney Wilson A. LaFaurie told the Times. If Lenich could so easily forge signatures and manipulate the system in this case, he wondered, could she or other prosecutors not have done so in others?
The Brooklyn D.A.'s office is currently reviewing its "protocols and procedures to make sure that this abuse of authority never happens again," according to a spokesperson. "We have no reason to believe at this time that any of our investigations have been compromised as all of her cases went through an appropriate supervisory process and judicial authorization, but we have nevertheless commenced an internal review," he said.
Lenich's lawyer, Gary Farrell, says the claims against his client "relate totally to a personal matter" and would not "somehow impugn wiretaps for other cases."
In the meantime, LaFaurie, the defense attorney, is currently reviewing his cases to see if Lenich was connected to any of them. We bet he's not the only lawyer in Brooklyn doing so.