For eighteen months in 2016, Tara Lenich used her job as an assistant Brooklyn district attorney to illegally secure wiretap and search warrants to listen in on an NYPD detective she had a crush on and a colleague she believed was dating the cop.
According to authorities, the 41-year-old former head of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau told authorities she and Jarrett Lemieux, a married father of two, were romantically involved, after working together on a gun-probe case into Delta Airlines in 2014.
But in order to ensure Lemieux was faithful, Lenich “created fraudulent judicial orders and forged the signatures of multiple New York State judges onto judicial orders that purportedly authorized” warrants to listen in on two cell phones, the Brooklyn District Attorney's office concluded.
The second wiretap targeted fellow prosecutor Stephanie Rosenfeld-Vais, a married mother of two, who Lenich believed was also seeing the NYPD detective.
The dubious warrants eventually led to an investigation in which authorities found copies of 20 forged wiretap orders found on the Brooklyn prosecutor’s office computer. Lenich eventually surrendered last April to her own district attorney’s office on two counts of illegal wiretapping.
After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to one year in prison.
“Former Assistant District Attorney Lenich violated her duty to the public as a prosecutor when she engaged in her long-running illegal scheme,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said at the time.
Now, with less than three months left in her sentence, Lenich is being sued by her alleged obsession, Jarrett Lemieux, along with over 700 of her two victims’ friends and family who believe they were unknowingly surveilled.
“We are prepared to fight these allegations and defend ourselves against the two lawsuits,” Lenich’s civil attorney Eric Creizman told The Daily Beast on Tuesday.
The two lawsuits, filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court, also name the City of New York and leadership at the Brooklyn DA’s office, including District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
The Brooklyn DA’s office told The Daily Beast on Tuesday they are aware of the lawsuits and are “looking into the allegations.”
“This illegal wiretapping operation caused serious harm to Ms. Rosenfeld and Det. Lemieux, who have each filed federal lawsuits seeking to recover for their substantial injuries,” the class action complaint states, filed by Rosenfeld’s sister Danielle Rosenfeld and Lemieux’s uncle, Vincent Garcia.
The class-action lawsuit claims that everyone who ever spoke or texted with Rosenfeld or Lemieux while they were being surveilled also had their conversations illegally recorded—and so they are also entitled to monetary damages.
“Each of these individuals is the victim of a serious invasion of privacy carried out by a high-ranking New York City official, acting in the course of her employment, on City time, using City equipment and facilities, and financed by City funds,” the complaint states.
Jim Glasser, the attorney who filed both lawsuits, believes Lenich’s supervisors are the ones to blame, since they allowed the former prosecutor to retrieve these warrants with little to no information.
“This lawsuit is just holding everyone accountable for this horrific incident. To show that no one is above the law, including prosecutors who we are supposed to trust,” Glasser told The Daily Beast. “The higher-ups at the district attorney’s office never told the two victims they were being wiretapped, and now everyone deserves compensation.”
Similar to the class-action lawsuit, Lenich’s love interest claims he encountered social and monetary setbacks after being monitored, and is demanding monetary compensation for the “severe embarrassment and reputational harm” he has suffered.
“His sense of personal security and of trust have been destroyed. Plaintiff can no longer engage in a conversation or exchange text messages or emails without fearing that he is being surveilled,” the complaint states. “He has even found it difficult to leave the house, due to a paranoia that he is being followed or monitored.”
Lenich also allegedly used information she intercepted “to harass and intimidate” the detective in an attempt to manipulate and “undermine his relationships with other colleagues in the NYPD and KCDA, including his partner and immediate supervisor.”
As a result, Lemieux, who joined the force on July 2, 2001 and was a responder during the 9/11 terror attacks, was put on “desk duty” following the investigation. When he returned to work, he was “removed from the elite ATF-NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force that he had been selected for and placed on modified duty” and stripped of privileges he “previously enjoyed, including the use of a take- home car and substantial overtime opportunities.”
Lemieux, who is currently retired, has never commented on whether he was romantically involved with Lenich. His attorney declined to comment.