BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — One of Brooklyn’s former top prosecutors choked back tears Monday as she admitted at a plea hearing that she forged judges’ signatures to surveil cellphones linked to a reported love interest.
“I would just like to apologize and say I’m so sorry for my actions and anyone whom [they] affected,” said Tara Lenich, her voice cracking.
The former deputy chief district attorney of Kings County, Lenich was indicted weeks earlier on two counts of illegal interception of communications.
After her arrest in November, New York City tabloids reported that Lenich had been trying to eavesdrop on a married love interest’s conversations with a fellow prosecutor.
The love interest has been identified as Jarrett Lemieux, a detective with the New York City Police Department. Stephanie Rosenfeld is the other prosecutor.
Lenich’s indictment is silent as to her motive and targets, but it details how she physically cut-and-pasted signatures to create forged orders.
Early on Monday afternoon, Lenich admitted to creating seven forged signatures on one cellphone and 17 forged signatures for the other.
“The indictment’s numbers seem correct,” Lenich said.
Her guilty pleas carry a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but Lenich is likely to receive a far lighter penalty.
U.S. District Judge William Kuntz said that her guideline range calls for eight to 14 months imprisonment, and that the minimum sentence would allow her time to be served via house arrest or a halfway house.
Lenich’s illegal wiretaps last for 16 months, from June 2015 until Nov. 27, 2016, federal prosecutors say.
Defense attorney Gary Farrell told reporters that his client’s reputation before this period should be taken into account.
“We take comfort with knowing that Judge Kuntz will consider Ms. Lenich’s otherwise exemplary personal and professional life when she’s sentenced,” Farrell said.
Farrell said that it is no surprise that his client pleaded guilty just one week after the unsealing of her indictment on March 27.
“From the beginning, Ms. Lenich has wanted to fully accept responsibility for her actions in this case,” he said.
Declining to comment on today’s plea, the Kings County District Attorney’s Office referred to its comment Lenich’s arrest in November.
“As soon as these allegations were uncovered, we conducted a swift and thorough investigation, immediately terminated the employee and ordered a comprehensive review of our protocols and procedures to make sure that this abuse of authority never happens again,” a spokesperson said at the time.
Some four months after this statement, the district attorney’s office still has not released the promised review to the public.
Lenich’s high rank made her one of the few prosecutors within the office able to circumvent the protocols, a law-enforcement source said.
The source declined to confirm whether any review would be released.
The probation department must submit a presentence report on Oct. 3, but a sentencing date has not been set.