An attorney and Washington County jail inmate accused of conspiring to eavesdrop on another lawyer during a private phone call agreed to have felony wiretapping charges held for court without any evidence presented.
Kimberly Ann Furmanek, an attorney now living in Youngwood, and John Quentin Lazear, who is jailed while awaiting trial on various drug cases, appeared for their preliminary hearing on July 27 before District Judge Kelly Stewart and jointly decided to allow their cases to proceed without contesting the evidence in the preliminary hearing.
According to investigators, Furmanek, 34, and Lazear, 38, had formed a romantic relationship while she was serving as his court-appointed attorney in multiple cases. She was eventually removed as his attorney in December, but she apparently continued speaking with him despite being barred from making phone calls to the jail for unknown reasons, investigators previously said.
She is accused of calling James Jeffries, who was Lazear’s new attorney at the time, on May 6 and placing another phone next to the speaker with Lazear on the other line so he could listen to the conversation. Because the jail records phone conversations with inmates when they’re not speaking to their lawyers, the phone call was recorded, unbeknownst to Jeffries.
The two were charged June 16 by detectives with the Washington County district attorney’s office. Furmanek is free on $25,000 cash bond while Lazear remains jailed with bond set in each of his four active cases.
Since then, Furmanek resigned from her position with the Westmoreland County public defender’s office that she had just accepted in early June, and she also was removed as court-appointed attorney for a double homicide suspect in Greene County. President Judge Lou Dayich ruled earlier this month that Furmanek should no longer represent Shawna Smith, who is charged with a co-defendant of shooting and killing two people in Waynesburg in February, due to the pending case in Washington County.
Her law license is still active, according to the state Disciplinary Board’s website, and there are no pending proceedings against her at this time.
Furmanek and Lazear are facing felony charges of intercepting communications and conspiracy, while Lazear is also charged with one misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats after investigators accused him of threatening Jeffries in another phone call. Furmanek attended the July 27 hearing in person with her attorney, Adam Yarussi, while Lazear appeared through video conferencing from the jail while being represented by Rose Semple.
By agreeing to have the charges held for court without requiring prosecutors to present a case, it preserves the defendants’ rights to potentially challenge evidence in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas at a later date. Their formal arraignment is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 25 at 9 a.m.