CCTV voyeurs?

My lecture at the architecture school as part of the Graduate Lecture Series went really well last night. I got a chance to get some feedback on my “4 stages of casino resort evolution” idea and got to talk a lot about casinos, particularly my experiences in security and surveillance.

When I saw this story about the use and abuse of surveillance cameras at Caesars AC, I knew I had to post it here. From the AC Press:

Gaming investigators say Theresa Magri was being stalked by video voyeurs in the early morning hours of October 2004 while she worked at the Toga Bar at Caesars Atlantic City.

Almost everywhere she went, the cameras followed her. Over and over, they zoomed in on her cleavage. The close-ups of her breasts were so extreme that it was easy to read the small nameplate pinned on Magri’s lapel.

In this case, the alleged Peeping Toms were security workers who used their surveillance cameras to spy on Magri and other women at Caesars.

Giving an extraordinary behind-the-scenes glimpse of a casino’s security operations, investigators played about an hour of videotape Tuesday as they pressed their case against two former surveillance supervisors accused of leering at female employees and patrons.

“Women, almost universally … are being watched by men in the surveillance room,” said Anthony J. Zarrillo Jr., an assistant state attorney general who is prosecuting the case for the Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Investigators allege four members of the Caesars security staff trained their cameras on the breasts and buttocks of women while working the graveyard shift on Oct. 1-3, 2004. All four have since been fired.

Two of the fired workers, surveillance supervisors James Doherty and Robert Swan, are fighting the charges. They claim they were simply keeping tabs on the casino floor while overseeing the cameras in the super-secret surveillance room.

“He did not act in a voyeuristic way,” said Swan’s attorney, John M. Donnelly.

Derek G. Timms, Doherty’s attorney, argued that the tapes are “not as salacious” as investigators have alleged.

During a hearing Tuesday, investigators showed videotape shot by Doherty in the early morning hours of Oct. 2, 2004. Although other women were shown on the tapes, much of the footage was of Magri while she was working at the Toga Bar on Caesars’ casino floor.

One of the opening shots was of Magri’s nameplate, followed by repeated close-ups of her cleavage. The cameras followed her around the bar while she served drinks or chatted with co-workers.

Zarrillo alleged that Magri and other women were being stalked by “people who were voyeurs.”

Surveillance cameras – the so-called “eyes in the sky” – are installed in the ceilings of casinos to keep watch of the gaming floor and other sensitive areas of the building. They are supposed to be used to catch cheaters or detect other suspicious activity.

But investigators said Doherty and Swan abused their authority by focusing on women. Doherty allegedly shot 64 minutes’ worth of illicit tape and Swan 11 minutes.

Caesars agreed to pay a $185,000 fine in September to settle the case. Last December, Caesars was fined $80,000 for similar incidents involving two other surveillance employees who spied on women.

In the most recent case, Caesars fought to keep the tapes from being released. Casino Control Commissioner Michael A. Fedorko, who is serving as hearing officer, ruled that the tapes should be made public as part of the evidence.

Although investigators say female customers were also spied on, the case against Doherty and Swan principally involves three Caesars employees – Magri, Morgan Rosenlund and Roxanne McGonigal. All three women were either working at the Toga Bar or serving drinks on the casino floor when they were filmed.

The hearing for Doherty and Swan is scheduled to resume today with the showing of more surveillance tapes. It may take months before Fedorko makes a ruling and recommends his findings to the full five-member Casino Control Commission for a vote. Doherty and Swan could have their gaming licenses suspended or revoked if the commission finds them guilty.

Magri, who left her job at Caesars after the spying was discovered, is suing the casino for invasion of privacy. She said she has been traumatized by the incident. However, she argued that the tapes should be made public to expose the alleged misconduct of the surveillance employees.

“I want them to show the tapes,” Magri said in a brief interview Tuesday.

Rosenlund and McGonigal, who still work at Caesars, both declined comment.

Press of Atlantic City: Tapes show surveillance cameras zooming in on women

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