DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A lovelorn Brooklyn prosecutor illegally tapped the phones of an NYPD detective she had dated and an assistant DA — his new love interest — for nearly a year and a half in order to follow their affair, sources said.
Tara Lenich, 41, a high-ranking member of the elite unit for investigating drug and gun rings, began forging the signatures of state judges in June 2015 in order to wiretap her former flame's cellphone, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. The detective's name was not released.
About two months later in August 2015, Lenich forged a judge's authorization again allowing her to tap the cellphone of her colleague in the DA's office, who had become romantically involved in with the investigator, according to the charges.
The phony documents were sent to AT&T and Verizon ordering the wiretap and was illegally re-authorized every month until the Thanksgiving holiday when Assistant Deputy Chief Detective Investigator Brian Donohue noticed that the secret electronic surveillance had been going on for more than a year, a law enforcement source who was not authorized to speak on the record said.
Most wiretaps, even for the lengthy drug and gun ring takedowns that Lenich's unit specialized in, don't last more than a year, the source said.
Lenich tried to cover her tracks by telling co-workers that the wire affidavits were for a secret Internal Affair Bureau investigation that only she could access, according to the source.
Donohue became suspicious and began reviewing the authorizations, according to the complaint.
"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," said Oren Yaniv, spokesman for the Brooklyn DA’s Office.
The unidentified detective in the love triangle has been placed on modified duty, and was stripped of his badge and gun, after allegedly making threats to the prosecutor, a source said. The NYPD is currently investigating that accusation.
The detective's union rebuked the police department for taking the officer way from his duties.
"The Assistant DA's behavior is inexplicable and the ultimate violation of her oath of office. Our detective is purely a victim in this situation and is not accused of any misconduct. So I expect a quick restoration to full duty once the department expeditiously concludes some precautionary steps," President of the Detective's Endowment Association, Michael Palladino, said.
Lenich was arraigned Monday night on two counts of eavesdropping and 20 counts of possession of the forged warrants.
Her lawyer Gary Farrell described her as a "top-rate prosecutor" and said that DA's office was "over-playing it as official corruption," he said.
"She brought in a lot of gun cases. A lot of drug cases," he said. "These allegations are disturbing."
The FBI searched Lenich's apartment Monday night, indicating that she could be brought up on federal charges, sources said.
Until her arrest, Tenich was a highly respected prosecutor. She joined the office under District Attorney Charles Hynes in 2005. She became a deputy in the unit in 2014, under DA Ken Thompson. The elite unit specialized in multiple defendant cases involving undercover offices and wiretaps.