Police: Business owner recorded employees

The owner of an Altoona business will face trial on charges he recorded employees using the bathroom.

Daniel T. Cowan, 52, 371 Canary Drive, Hollidaysburg, waived his preliminary hearing on felony and misdemeanor wiretapping and invasion of privacy charges Tuesday in Altoona District Court, charges Altoona police said stem from a miniature camera Cowan allegedly set up in an employee restroom at Cowan’s business, Altoona Builders Exchange, at 1927 Union Ave.

According to police, Cowan admitted in a written statement to setting up the camera, one that was hidden in a mesh bag of decorative and fragrant pine cones hung from a small hook.

Police said the camera, which recorded audio as well as video, was recovered along with its memory card, and investigators were able to retrieve video files depicting four employees using the bathroom.

Police noted the camera was angled to record the toilet, and video recovered showed three women and one male. The memory card had video showing two women recorded using the bathroom and deleted files that police were able to salvage showed another woman and the male, according to police.

Police said the incidents occurred between late March and early April, although in his written statement Cowan admitted he placed the device in the bathroom in February.

Police said the mesh bag holding the pine cones was thrown in the trash, and an employee noticed the camera after it was thrown away and turned it over to police. The camera was equipped with a motion sensor and had a two-hour charge, according to police.

Cowan is charged with six counts of misdemeanor invasion of privacy, one count for each recorded incident involving the four employees, police noted. Cowan also faces felony interception of communications and possessing a device for the interception of communications.

A preliminary hearing on the charges had been scheduled for today before Magisterial District Judge Todd Kelly, but Cowan waived that hearing Tuesday.

Cowan turned himself in at his preliminary arraignment last Thursday and remains free on a unsecured $5,000 bond.