Government Officials Can't Stop Spying on Their Crushes

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

On Monday, a top prosecutor in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office was arrested amid allegations that she used an illegal wiretap to eavesdrop on a coworker and an NYPD detective.


But in a twist worthy of a Mary Higgins Clark novel, the New York Times reports that the incident was part of a “love triangle gone wrong,” and an anonymous law enforcement official said that prosecutor Tara Lenich carried out the wiretap because of “a personal entanglement between her and the detective.” The Times also says that the scenario The New York Daily News reports that the two “worked closely [together] on a high-profile gun trafficking case.”

To carry out the nefarious scheme, Lenich allegedly forged the signatures of several judges in order to obtain wiretap orders. Most wiretaps only last about a month before they need a renewal, but Lenich was able to keep up the ruse for about a year due to the forgery, law enforcement officials said.

From the Times:

She also tried to avoid suspicion by telling fellow prosecutors that she had undertaken a secret investigation on behalf of the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau and was the only person who could have access to the wiretap, the official said.

According to the Daily News, Lenich wanted to find out if the detective “was involved in illegal activity.”

But lest you think Lenich is alone in her alleged dealings, it’s worth remembering that, on the whole, humans are a pretty depraved bunch, and they’re certainly not above using institutional power and technology for their twisted schemes, particularly when romance is involved.


A 2013 report from the Wall Street Journal, for example, detailed the ways in which some employees of the National Security Agency used the organization’s substantial spying arsenal to hone in on their paramours. The practice even had a lame codename—LOVEINT, or “love intelligence.”

From the Journal:

The LOVEINT violations involved overseas communications, officials said, such as spying on a partner or spouse. In each instance, the employee was punished either with an administrative action or termination.

Most of the incidents, officials said, were self-reported. Such admissions can arise, for example, when an employee takes a polygraph tests as part of a renewal of a security clearance.


In 2014, two cops in California were investigated for allegedly snooping on prospective Tinder dates using police databases. And in 2012, a woman accused a Chicago police officer of invading her privacy after he tracked her down to ask her on a date after giving her a speeding ticket. A 2016 investigation by the Associated Press found that “police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work,” and noted hundreds of incidents in which employees misused official databases.

This isn’t to say, of course, that all law enforcement officials are secretly spying on their husbands, girlfriends or that one regular at the bar with whom they want to copulate, but there certainly have been more than a few cases. Then again, at least it’s not cannibalism.


[New York Daily News]

Sophie is a former news editor at Gizmodo.


Yeah, this is my main concern with surveillance, actually - the “little guys” who use it for petty reasons. I assume the government as a whole doesn’t give a shit what the vast majority of us are up to, but there is always some asshole who would dig up dirt on you if they could.