McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

December 20, 2013

Video allegations: documents outline federal case at McAAP

McALESTER — Documents obtained by the McAlester News-Capital outline how a man accused of placing a video camera in a ladies restroom at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant allegedly connected the device to a television set in his office.

Kenneth W. Elkins, 55, of McAlester, faces federal court charges on three misdemeanor counts of video voyeurism in connection with the McAAP case.

He also faces state charges for events that allegedly occurred at a McAlester residence, including two felony counts of “record/transmit obscenity” and two misdemeanor counts of “using electronic equipment in a clandestine manner,” according to information from the Eastern District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney’s office and information filed in Pittsburg County District Court.

Charges filed in the case resulted from an investigation which included McAAP Security, the FBI and the McAlester Police Department.

Elkins is a former U.S. Navy civilian employee at McAAP, where he worked as the division director of the McAlester detachment of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, according to an Indian Head spokesperson.

An affidavit filed in the case states that FBI Special Agent Harry Murphy was notified by McAAP Criminal Investigator Andy Starry on Aug. 14 that a female employee at the facility had noticed a suspicious image on a television in her supervisor’s office.

The woman, called Jane Doe #1 in the documents, had contacted McAAP security at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 14 and reported that she had unexpectedly visited Elkins’ office to discuss a budget matter and observed an image of the interior of a female restroom at McAAP displayed on his television, according to allegations in the affidavit.

When Elkins saw the woman in his office, he immediately turned off the television, the affidavit alleges.

The affidavit says the woman did not say anything at the time and did not immediately report the matter to McAAP security. However, after leaving work and discussing the situation with her husband, she notified McAAP security that night, according to the affidavit.

After receiving the report, McAAP Chief of Security Tracy Howard, McAAP Physical Security Specialist Ginger Maxwell and Starry went to the restroom to investigate the matter.

“While in the designated restroom, investigators discovered a smoke detector mounted on the wall approximately six feet above the floor, opposite the toilet,” the affidavit states. Smoke detectors are not normally installed in McAAP restrooms, the affidavit states.

Upon removal of the smoke detector backplate, an investigator said the smoke detector appeared to have been tampered with, according to the affidavit.

Investigators did not find a camera or recording device inside the smoke detector in the women’s rest room.

“A subsequent search of Elkins’ office, however, revealed a second smoke detector which contained a camera lens pointing out of the smoke detector,” the affidavit alleges. Investigators proceeded on the theory that the smoke detectors had been switched and the smoke detector with no camera had been placed in the restroom after Jane Doe #1 allegedly saw the image of the women’s restroom on the television set.

“Further examination of Elkins’office and the women’s restroom revealed coaxial cables which ran through the bathroom ceiling, along a water pipe, down into the ceiling of Elkins’ office and into the television set located in his office,” the affidavit alleges, adding that the television set was connected to a VCR player with recording capability.

A search of Elkins’office turned up items including a power drill, black electrical tape and zip tie, with some items containing dry wall residue believed to have been obtained during installation of the smoke detector, the affidavit continues.

Investigators also recovered several pieces of electronic media equipment from the office, including external hard drives, CDs and thumb drives, the affidavit states.

McAAP security officials suspended Elkins’ access to the base after the searches were completed, the affidavit states.

On Aug. 16,  the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma issued a search warrant for Elkins’ McAlester residence.

Prior to Murphy and FBI Special Agent Michael Rivers interviewed Elkins on Aug. 19, the affidavit states.

They allegedly obtained information that two covert video cameras had been placed in the womens restroom adjacent to Elkins’ office.

“One camera was placed inside a smoke detector affixed approximately six feet above the floor facing the toilet,” the affidavit states. “A second camera was installed in an electrical socket near the floor facing the toilet. Both cameras were installed in the same bathroom stall.”

Equipment, including four small cameras, a power source cable and coaxial cables used in the set-up had been purchased from Ebay, according to the affidavit.

The equipment had been installed after other employees in the building had left work for the day, according to allegations in the affidavit. Further examinations revealed cables had been ran through the ceiling to a VCR connected to a television and DVD players in Elkins’ office, according to allegations in the affidavit.

After the installation had been completed, unsuspecting female occupants could be viewed as they used the womens  restroom in the building, the affidavit alleges.

One victim had been viewed approximately 20 times, maybe more, according to allegations in the affidavit.

The camera in the women’s restroom was “always on and always capable of receiving an image,” the affidavit alleges. The image would appear on the television set only if the light in the women’s restroom was turned on, according to allegations in the affidavit.

After an employee entered the restroom and turned on the overhead light, a visible image of the restroom and its occupant would be broadcast to the television screen, the affidavit alleges.

Investigators recovered information that the viewing and recording of female employees in the restroom had started July 1, 2013, the affidavit alleges. They also obtained information that recorded footage of McAAP employees using the restroom had been recorded on two VHS tapes and transported to Elkins’ residence, according to allegations in the affidavit.

During the execution of a federal search warrant at Elkins’ McAlester residence, law enforcement officers received a number items, including two VHS tapes, a VHS/DVD combination player, a smoke detector containing a camera and a covert video camera system, according to allegations in the affidavit.

As part of the investigation, at this point assisted by Assistant United States Attorney Melody Nelson, law enforcement officers alleged that the “private area” of three females at  McAAP were covertly recorded without their knowledge or consent.

The search warrant in McAlester also led to the McAlester police joining the investigation and resulted in the filing of the separate state charges in Pittsburg County District Court filed by District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward’s office.

Elkins remains free on $50,000 bond on the state charges. He is set to be in federal court on Jan. 15 at the Eastern District of Oklahoma U.S. Courthouse in Muskogee for an initial court appearance on the federal charges.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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