The steamy text messages between El Chapo’s lawyer and the ‘Vegan Bernie Madoff’ could spell far more trouble than just an angry wife.
Jeffrey Lichtman may not be able to visit his own client in jail after he discussed El Chapo in texts to former restaurateur Sarma Melngailis.
‘Is it bad that I’m hiring a belly dancer to be Chapo’s daily visitor,’ read one text that Lichtman sent to Melngailis on March 16, 2017.
In another text Lichtman said he knew a belly dancer would be ‘kinda sleazy’ but that he felt bad for the drug kingpin because he ‘has no pretty women visiting him’.
Now a former federal prosecutor believes the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office could launch an investigation into Lichtman’s texts.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman’s may not be able to visit El Chapo in jail after he discussed El Chapo in texts to former restaurateur Sarma Melngailis
Sarma Melngailis allegedly had a 15-month affair with Lichtman while he was her attorney
‘Given the situation…it’s something I’m sure they will look into and investigate as fully as they can,’ the former prosecutor told the New York Post.
A veteran federal defense lawyer said it is likely the Federal Bureau of Prisons could get involved as well.
‘If he’s having someone go in on attorney visits, masquerading as a paralegal or a lawyer to flirt with a client, the [Bureau of Prisons] should look into this, without question,’ they added.
‘If he’s talking about Chapo in text messages with that woman, who knows what he’s saying to other people?’
Both the defense lawyer and former prosecutor believe the judge could call Lichtman in for private questioning under oath before the trial resumes on Monday.
It wouldn’t be the first time El Chapo’s team has gotten in trouble with Judge Brian Cogan.
Last month Cogan forbade two members of the defense team from bringing cellphones into court for an entire year after prosecutors claimed they were using the phones to help El Chapo secretly text his wife Emma Coronel Aispuro.
Melngailis, pictured in a Brooklyn court alongside Lichtman in June 2017, rose to popularity when her two Manhattan vegan eateries – Lucky Duck restaurant and Pure Food & Wine – became foodie sensations in the city
The 46-year-old did just over three months behind bars in a sweetheart plea deal
Lichtman’s potential legal troubles come just a day after his texts to Melngailis were leaked online.
In explosive messages, the New York Post revealed the alleged sordid affair between the disgraced chef and her drug lord attorney occurred between February 2017 to May 2018.
Melngailis, 46, rose to popularity when her two Manhattan vegan eateries – Lucky Duck restaurant and Pure Food & Wine – became foodie sensations in the city.
She was jailed for more than three months in 2017 after she confessed to stealing more than $1million from her former workers and investors.
Lichtman, 53, who is married with children, got her the sweetheart deal while he was handling El Chapo’s case.
Just two days after she pleaded guilty to charges of grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, and a scheme to defraud, Lichtman sent his client a sex-fueled text.
‘Do you want to belong to me? Will it be ok if some days I just use your body so that I can [orgasm]?’ he wrote.
In one text Lichtman told Melngailis that he knew a belly dancer would be ‘kinda sleazy’ but that he felt bad for the drug kingpin because he ‘has no pretty women visiting him’. Pictured is El Chapo’s wife Emma Cornoel Aispuro
Now a former federal prosecutor believes the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office could launch an investigation into Lichtman’s texts. He is pictured here outside Brooklyn Federal Court in 2017
On March 18, 2017, Lichtman texted Melngailis: ‘You do look so pretty in that pic I would like to foul you. Is it bad that I’m thinking some disgusting thoughts about you?’
‘Is it bad that Iʼm glad youʼre thinking them?’ Melngailis replied.
Less than 10 days later, Lichtman told his client, ‘We need to do this soon,’ asking, ‘Would you still be able to stand me as your lawyer if I foul you?’
‘I think so,’ Melngailis responded.
‘Let’s wait until after then,’ Lichtman wrote.
‘I’m not opposed to before,’ she shot back.
On May 2, just days before Melngailis’ plea deal, Lichtman sent her a text alluding to a previous dalliance.
‘I loved being in you,’ he wrote.
Melngailis replied: ‘And see how you lucked out: I didn’t go all praying mantis and kill and eat you after. For that would have only been self-defeating.’
‘You felt perfect. Like it fit perfectly. Do you want that again,’ he wrote days later.
‘Yes I do,’ Melngailis answered.
A veteran federal defense lawyer said it is likely the Federal Bureau of Prisons could get involved as well because of Lichtman’s texts
Just the day before her plea deal, the texts continued as Lichtman told his client that he would want to have sex with her while she was on her nightly Ambien.
‘I would be in favor of that,’ Melngailis said. ‘They make me kind of rag dollish.’
‘Perfect,’ he replied.
Lichtman later told Melngailis that he was ‘swooning’ for her while they were in court together.
‘Just wanted to touch you a little even,’ he added.
‘I love when you say stuff like that. As it’s often hard to tell behind your surly facade. That’s romantic,’ she wrote back.
‘I wanted you to feel my shoulder rubbing up against yours…I need to eat you,’ Lichtman continued.
In one May exchange, Melngailis reassured Lichtman that she hadn’t told anyone about their affair.
‘I expected you to keep this between us,’ he responded. ‘Look. You know how important you are to me.’
According to the Post, Melngailis did not ask Litchman if he was married until after they had sex.
‘Separated since December,’ he told her in a May 19, 2017, text.
The leak also revealed messages between Melngailis and disgraced comedian Louis CK following a sexual encounter in 2012. The pair exchanged testy emails about how she believed he may have given her a STD
Lichtman’s wife later revealed they had never separated and she had no knowledge of the affair.
Lichtman has since said in a statement that his affair with Melngailis is a ‘deeply personal matter’ that he is ‘going to try to deal with privately’.
‘My life and behavior have not always been perfect – as I think we can all say – but I’m proud of my legal work in this case and on behalf of all the clients I’ve represented for the past 28 years,’ he added.
‘My personal feelings have never impacted my professional work or the results that I have achieved.’
Meanwhile, Melngailis claimed that someone ‘criminally accessed’ her devices and ‘took copies of existing and deleted materials’.
‘I immediately filed a police report and sought protections, which were violated,’ she added.
‘I’m personally mortified that this person who very much wants to hurt me has successfully done so and worse in the form of this collateral damage to Jeffrey.’
In addition to messages about their affair, Lichtman also texted Melngailis about her former defense lawyer Sheila Tendy.
He claimed that Tendy was ‘obsessed with sexual abuse’, telling Melngailis: ‘That’s why I wasn’t looking at her when sitting next to her on the bench. I didn’t want to be accused of rape’.
The leak also revealed messages between Melngailis and disgraced comedian Louis CK following a sexual encounter in 2012. The pair exchanged testy emails about how she believed he may have given her a STD.