BP supervisor gets prison for restroom videotape

Posted at 7:05 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 22:05:34-05

SAN DIEGO -- A former Border Patrol supervisor who videotaped women in the bathroom of a Border Patrol compound in Chula Vista will serve nearly two years in federal prison.

Forty-six-year-old Armando Gonzalez was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court to 21 months in prison for lying to federal officials. He was also sentenced to 12 months in prison on seven counts of video voyeurism -- a sentence that will run concurrent with the 21-month term.

Outside of court, Gonzalez apologized to his victims.

"I feel extremely bad for them. I couldn't imagine what they [have] gone through emotionally and how it affected them," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was arrested in February, more than a month after a motion-sensor camera was found in a floor drain of the women’s bathroom at the compound on Beyer Boulevard. The camera secretly captured co-workers as they used the toilet and changed clothes. Federal prosecutors say he told investigators the camera had only been in the bathroom for a day or two and that he'd placed it there to investigate possible drug abuse.

In April, Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of video and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. However, in May he agreed to a plea deal.

Evidence collected shows the camera had been in place for about two years. Prosecutors said they found 300 recordings of at least a dozen victims taken over a two-year span on a computer hard drive seized from Gonzalez.

One hard drive, referred to by federal prosecutors as a potential "motherlode" of video, was never found. As part of the plea deal, Gonzalez admitted he destroyed it and got rid of it.

Monday morning in federal court, two of his victims spoke about how this crime affected them.

"He's taken away my confidence," one victim said.

Another said through her tears: "I'm supposed to be safe at work... I'm afraid to use the bathroom in public."

The victims are terrified the videos will surface online, something Gonzalez's lawyer promised would not happen.

Gonzalez worked for the Critical Incident Investigation Team. His attorney, Gretchen von Helms said her client had PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. She said the Border Patrol is partially to blame in that her client asked for help that he never received.

"The workplace should address these issues early on... get their officers and agents counseling and treatment for the kind of work they see," von Helms said.

Team 10 first reported in January that San Diego police were handling the case. It wasn't until later that the FBI took over. By then, Gonzalez, who was not taken into custody, had scuttled the evidence.

Under the terms of his plea deal, Gonzalez has agreed to take a lie-detector test, requested by his victims. According to Gonzalez's attorney, Gretchen von Helms, the women want him to be questioned about whether he shared any of the graphic images or posted them online.

"I prosecute child pornography cases and it's been my experiences these individuals are hard wired to engage in this type of behavior. This is what they like, this is what they find sexually interesting," said Assistant U.S. Attorney, Alessandra Serano.

Gonzalez has six weeks to surrender.