A former U.S. Border Patrol supervisor who set up a secret restroom camera to record female co-workers has been sentenced to 21 months in prison, a punishment some of his victims said was too lenient.
“It’s not over for us, it’s not over for the other victims and it never will be given the realities of the Internet, where a single image can haunt a victim and family forever,” said one woman who has worked in federal law enforcement for more than 20 years.
Armando Gonzalez, 46, pleaded guilty in May to one count of making false statements to federal officers and seven counts of video voyeurism. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez sentenced Gonzalez on Monday to priso and also ordered him to pay restitution to his victims.
The motion-activated camera was discovered Jan. 9 at the border patrol station in San Ysidro. Gonzalez initially told supervisors he had placed it there as part of a drug investigation into one of his employees, but later admitted that was a lie.
Investigators found 338 videos on storage devices in the camera and in his office. They showed victims, including law enforcement officers and women on the cleaning staff, who were changing or using the restroom.
Defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms told the judge that Gonzalez’s time with an investigative unit had led to post-traumatic stress disorder and that recording his co-workers was his way of seeking emotional connection. She also said Gonzalez insisted that he never posted or disseminated any of the videos or photos.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Alessandra Serano, however, called Gonzalez’s crimes a “huge invasion of privacy.” She said no sentence doled out by the court would make his victims whole again.
Gonzalez apologized to his victims Monday, saying what he did was egregious and abhorrent.
“I think about them every day and what I’ve done to them, their family and friends,” he said.
Lyndsay Winkley, “Ex-Border Patrol supervisor gets prison time for recording female co-workers in bathroom”, December 16, 2015, Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-border-patrol-sentencing-20151216-story.html?platform=hootsuite