A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor who admitted to secretly videotaping his female co-workers in the bathroom and then lying to cover up his action was sentenced to time in prison Monday.
Armando Gonzalez, 46, of El Cajon, worked as a supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol when he recorded seven women using the bathroom at the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station.
Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Gonzalez admitted that he hid a camera in the bathroom and recorded videos from July 24, 2013 to April 11, 2014.
Gonzalez was sentenced to 21 months in prison Monday for what he did in a case U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez called shocking. What Gonzalez did was "egregious" and "a violation of trust," Benitez said.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano argued that Gonzalez deserved a hefty sentence for his crimes, including editing video on the cameras.
“When Armando Gonzalez put a video camera down the drain of a women’s restroom, he also put his career, his honor and his freedom down that drain,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a statement. “This is a fitting sentence for a man who sullied his badge with such despicable behavior.”
Prosecutors say the camera captured an estimated 300 videos by automatically recording when someone entered the stall.
The clips were stored on an SD card he hid at the office.
He also said that when his bosses found the camera and confronted him about it, he initially lied to them and said the camera was part of an investigation into an employee’s drug use.
A woman with U.S. Customs and Border Protection found the camera on Jan. 9 and reported it to authorities. Not long after, investigators say they found close to 170 pictures of naked women or those wearing only undergarments in Gonzalez’s office.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement and seven counts of video voyeurism.
Gonzalez will remain free on bond until he has to report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on Jan. 22.
Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow issued the following statement Thursday:
“The U.S. Border Patrol has cooperated fully with this investigation from the onset and we are satisfied to see the criminal justice system move swiftly to bring this case to a close. Mr. Gonzalez has tarnished the image of every Border Patrol agent who works tirelessly protecting America night and day. Border Patrol agents are held to the highest standards and we remain committed to rooting out unacceptable behavior to ensure that those who commit such acts are held accountable.”