Tara Frances Lenich was disbarred as an attorney in New York on December 29, 2017. Lenich’s disbarment was based on her guilty plea in April 2017 to two federal charges of illegal interception of electronic communications while she was an assistant district attorney in the Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney’s Office. The victims of Lenich’s wiretap crimes were her boyfriend and a female co-worker Lenich thought he was involved with.
Tara Lenich was admitted as a lawyer in New York in 2004. In 2005 she was hired as a King’s County assistant district attorney. In October 2014 Lenich was assigned as deputy chief of the DA’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau. The VCEB specializes tactics like wiretaps to conduct surveillance of criminal gangs and drug organizations.
While in that position Lenich became romantically involved with NYPD Detective Jarrett Lemieux. While she was involved with Lemieux, she believed he also took up with ADA Stephanie Rosenfeld. Lenich and Rosenfeld were co-workers.
Lenich was arrested in her office on Monday, November 28, 2016. Over the Thanksgiving weekend the DA’s Office discovered that for more than a year during 2015 and 2016 she engaged in an elaborate scheme to surveil Lemieux and Rosenfeld.
Lenich had forged wiretap warrants for Lemieux and Rosenfeld’s cell phones by cutting the signature of judges from legitimate documents and pasting them on wiretap applications. She also gave false grand jury subpoenas to Lemieux and Rosenfeld’s phone providers so she could obtain their text messages. She concealed her personal surveillance operation by lying to fellow prosecutors: she told them her investigation was confidential and only she had access to the wiretaps.
After Lenich’s arrest she admitted what she had done. She was immediately fired by the DA’s office. Federal authorities took over her case because it was a conflict of interest for the King’s County DA to bring state charges.
Co-workers described Lenich as a model prosecutor.
The DA’s Office announced it would comprehensively review its protocols and procedures to ensure that Lenich’s abuse of her authority would never happen again.
On March 23, 2017 a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) indicted Lenich for two counts of illegal interception of communications under 18 USC §§ 2511(1)(a) and (4)(a).
During her arraignment on March 27 Lenich pled not guilty, and she was released on $500,000 bond.
A week later Lenich pled guilty to both counts during a hearing on April 3, 2017. She admitted she knew what she was doing was illegal.
Her sentencing was scheduled for December 12, 2017. It was later rescheduled for February 2, 2018. Federal prosecutors want Lenich to be sentenced to between eight and 14 months in federal prison.
An attorney licensed in New York who is convicted of any state or federal felony that corresponds to a felony in New York, is required to file within 30 days a record of that conviction with the appellate division of the New York supreme court. A felony conviction subjects a lawyer to automatic disbarment.
Lenich did not file the required notice she had pled guilty on April 3, 2017 to two federal felony crimes that are essentially similar to New York’s felony eavesdropping law.
The Grievance Committee for three different New York judicial districts filed a joint motion to disbar Lenich as required by her felony convictions. On October 23, 2017 Lenich filed a letter that she did not oppose the motion.
On December 29, 2017 the New York Appellate Division, Second Department granted the motion striking Lenich as a lawyer. The Court’s ruling stated:
“During the respondent’s plea allocution, she admitted that she was guilty of both counts of an indictment filed March 23, 2017, in that, between approximately 2015 and 2016, while working as an Assistant District Attorney for the Office of the Kings County District Attorney, she, inter alia, misappropriated that office’s equipment and facilities in order to illegally intercept and record the oral and electronic communications transmitted to and from two cellular telephones, and that she did illegally intercept, eavesdrop on, and record such communications.”
ORDERED that … Tara Frances Lenich, is disbarred, effective April 3, 2017, and her name is stricken from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law …”
Click here to read the court’s ruling In the Matter of Tara F. Lenich, 2017 NY Slip Op 09280 (NY Appellate Div., 2nd Dept., Dec. 29, 2017).
The irony of Lenich wrecking her career is her notion Lemieux and Rosenfeld were romantically involved was a fantasy. It only existed in her mind.
Lenich faces additional fallout from her illegal surveillance of Rosenfeld. On December 14, 2017 Rosenfeld, 37, filed a lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit alleges Lenich’s federal crimes and the resulting scuttlebutt in legal circles she was involved in a love triangle with Lemieux and Lenich resulted in her being forced to resign in May 2017 from her job as an assistance district attorney. Rosenfeld’s lawsuit is Rosenfeld v. Lenich, No. 1:17-cv-07299-NGG-PK (EDNY).