SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor has been charged with video voyeurism in connection with a camera he is accused of concealing in a women’s restroom at the San Diego-area border station where he worked, his attorney said on Monday.
Armando Gonzalez, 46, who has over two decades of experience in the Border Patrol, was placed on paid administrative leave in January when the camera was discovered and reported to the San Diego Police Department.
Gonzalez, who was taken into custody on Friday and is also charged with making false statements, did not enter a plea on Monday at the federal court hearing where the complaint against him was unsealed. His arraignment is set for April 2, and bail was set at $50,000.
His attorney, Gretchen Von Helms, said Gonzalez was innocent of the charges. She said the timing of his arrest late on Friday left her with concerns about the investigation.
“It was completely unnecessary for them to cause him to spend four days in custody when they know he has been cooperating with the investigation since this started in January,” Von Helms said in a phone interview on Monday.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court, investigators recovered 169 video files from the memory card in the bathroom camera and on Gonzalez’s office computer that contained images of women’s breasts, buttocks and genitalia, all filmed surreptitiously in the Border Patrol station bathroom used mainly by federal employees.
Gonzalez was the supervisor of the Critical Incident Investigations Team.
After the camera was discovered, Gonzalez told his supervisors that he had placed the camera in the bathroom because he suspected an employee of using illegal drugs at work, according to the affidavit. None of the saved images contained evidence of illegal drug use, the affidavit said.
While video voyeurism carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, making false statements to investigators carries a maximum of five years in prison.
Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney