A former Deputy Registrar with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office in the Frontier Shopping Center in Marietta will serve 60 days in jail and pay $300 in fines plus court costs after reaching a plea agreement Thursday.
Former Deputy Registrar Tim Amrine, who had served in the office since 1998, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voyeurism in regards to a hidden camera that was discovered in a restroom at the BMV facility in Marietta.
The camera, which was located in a cardboard box in an employee bathroom that was also used for storage, was positioned to capture the genitalia of employees using the toilet, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
Former Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Deputy Registrar Tim Amrine, right, sits with attorney Dennis Sipe during a change of plea hearing in Marietta Municipal Court Thursday. Amrine pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of voyeurism.
The Marietta Times
Schneider said the bathroom was intended for employees only, but in case of an emergency a member of the public likely would have been allowed to use the facility, though it was in an area inaccessible to the general public.
"It was a bathroom used by all employees, male and female, but only employees," Schneider said.
Amrine's attorney, Dennis Sipe, said during the plea hearing the camera was placed after Amrine discovered money missing from the office during his absence. That claim did not sit well with victims of the case.
"The violation of our privacy had nothing to do with any money because it happened in a private restroom," one victim said.
In general, The Marietta Times does not publish the names of victims of sexual crimes.
For each count of the plea, acting judge Nancy Brum sentenced Amrine to 60 days in the Washington County Jail plus a $100 fine and court costs, but 40 days were suspended if all fines and court costs were paid. Sipe said Amrine intended to pay those costs Thursday.
Brum served as judge on the case when municipal court judge Janet Dyar-Welch asked to recuse herself due to a conflict of interest.
Amrine will report to the Washington County Jail on March 6 at 6 p.m. to serve the remaining 20 days of each count, which will be served consecutively.
"If you fail to show up to your jail sentence, you are looking at another six months," Brum warned Amrine.
The case began in September when an employee at the facility discovered the hidden camera. Schneider said based on the investigation, which was conducted by Trooper Laura Taylor of the Cambridge Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, the camera had been in place for roughly five days prior to discovery.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the patrol report recommended three charges be filed against Amrine including voyeurism, possession of criminal tools and tampering with evidence. The tampering with evidence charge, which as a felony would have been the most serious, was a result of Amrine's attempt to destroy the camera.
"During the course of the investigation it was discovered Mr. Amrine had taken the camera, stomped on it and put it in the dumpster behind the building," Schneider said.
Schneider elected to offer the defense a choice of pleading to the three counts of voyeurism or one count of tampering with evidence. In the end, Schneider said he did not believe he could prove the tampering charge as Amrine was unsuccessful in his effort to destroy the camera.
Despite the damage, the Ohio Highway Patrol was still able to recover three images of women using the bathroom from the camera. The camera, which Schneider said was an antiquated model, held a five-hour data spool that was recorded over each day, meaning the three images were from the day the camera was discovered.
The camera also could not be turned on and off remotely, meaning that for several hours it could be recording a black room, interrupted only when someone turned the light on to use the restroom. No evidence was discovered to indicate images or video from the camera had been downloaded to a computer, Schneider said.
None of the victims were juveniles, and while it was suspected there were additional victims the nature of the camera and subsequent damage limited charges to the three victims.
"What I could prove were three images," Schneider said.
Victims of the case indicated a strong desire for Amrine to receive a jail sentence and said they were not entirely pleased with the outcome.
"All I have to say to Tim is that at one point we all considered him a friend," said the husband of one victim. "People looked up to him. Now the victims have to have nightmares the rest of their lives...I hope it eats at him for the rest of his life."