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’12 Alumna Lauren Katona Wins Conviction in High-Profile Stalking Case

Lauren Katona '12

November 12, 2015

Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Lauren Katona, ’12, won a conviction in a high-profile case that pitted her against one of the city’s most renowned criminal-defense attorneys, Jack McMahon, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Nov. 12.

A jury on Nov. 12 convicted Delaware County resident John Hart of stalking and harassing CBS3 anchor Erika von Tiehl after she ended a brief relationship with him.

The jury acquitted Hart on charges of identity theft and using computers to disrupt von Tiehl’s communications services.  

Von Tiehl testified that, after breaking up with Hart, she received abusive and threatening text messages and found that someone had changed her cell phone number, interrupted her cable service and changed the passwords to her social media accounts.

Katona also called as witnesses a former girlfriend of Hart who experienced similar harassment that demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behavior, an FBI data expert who uncovered programs on Hart’s computers that can be used to disguise a computer’s identity and Hart’s former parole officer, who identified a disguised voice in a recorded phone call to Verizon Wireless as the defendant’s.  

According to the Inquirer, Hart behaved erratically after his arrest, firing several attorneys before representing himself for a period of time and eventually hiring McMahon.

McMahon argued that von Tiehl had embellished her story after her initial conversations with detectives. 

Considered one of Philadelphia’s most formidable criminal defense attorneys, McMahon has a client list that resembles a “who’s who” of high-profile defendants, including Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the West Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of murder but spared the death penalty and Temple University law student Gerald Ung, who was acquitted of attempted murder in an Old City shooting.

Upon graduating, Katona received an award and set a school record for pro bono service, logging in 1,042 hours at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.  

Hart, a former Villanova law student who has had several prior arrests and convictions for similar crimes, faces sentencing on Jan. 22.