Halliburton employee accused of hiding camera in first class airplane bathroom

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston man who works for Halliburton is accused of planting a camera inside an airplane bathroom and using it to record women.

Choon Ping Lee has been charged with video voyeurism within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

The incident happened May 5 on United Airlines flight 646 from San Diego to Houston.

Authorities say a first class passenger, who is also from Houston, told them she went to the bathroom at one point during the flight and noticed a device with a blue blinking light.

She claimed it was near the cabinet and wall area, close to a door hinge. The device was loosely hanging, but she said she wasn't sure if it was part of the plane.

The passenger grabbed it with a paper towel, walked out of the bathroom and gave it to the flight crew.

According to court documents, once they arrived in Houston, the crew gave the item to George Bush Intercontinental Airport United Airlines Corporate Security.

Security, who confirmed it was a video recording device, watched the footage and saw a man installing the device in the bathroom in first class on that same flight.

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Officials say they couldn't see the man's face, but he wore clothing and jewelry with distinct details. He wore a watch on his left hand and a small bracelet on his right wrist.

He had on a blue, short-sleeved shirt with the letters "NJC" on the back and loosely fitted jeans. He also wore black tennis shoes with black leather on top near the black laces and white trim on the bottom of the shoes.

FBI San Diego had video footage of all the passengers boarding United Airlines Flight 646. A man wearing the same clothing as the person seen in the bathroom video was spotted in the San Diego boarding area. He also wore glasses and carried a black backpack.

Video showed the man, wearing the same distinct clothing, leaving the plane after it landed in Houston.

Houston police then used video footage of the man walking through Bush Airport to help track him down.

He was identified as Lee, a Malaysian citizen. United Airlines Corporate Security confirmed Lee sat in first class on the flight.

FBI Houston recovered deleted files on the device showing another airplane bathroom where at least two women were caught on camera. Authorities discovered that the files were from an Emirates flight, and one of the victims was wearing an Emirates flight crew uniform.

Court papers show the FBI contacted Halliburton, who provided them with Lee's travel information and that he flew on Emirates for work.

Halliburton also shared a real time photo of Lee walking down the hallway at his job site. He was wearing the watch and bracelet that matched the jewelry seen on camera on the United Airlines flight on May 5.

The company issued the following statement: "Halliburton is aware of the situation and is cooperating with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in their investigation. We have a robust Code of Business Conduct and expect every employee to abide by the standards contained in the Code and all applicable laws."

Authorities requested a warrant for Lee's arrest. If convicted, he could be fined, spend up to a year in prison or both.

A former federal prosecutors say voyeurism is becoming a bigger problem.

"As these devices become more prevalent, I think you're going got see a lot more of these cases in the future," said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.

Cameras are everywhere. Some you can see, some you can't.

"They can be as small as a pinhole size, hidden in a ceiling, in a coffee mug," said Natalia Avila from Central Spy Shop.

In fact, Central Spy Shop has even heard of cases where the cameras were found on cruise ships and airbnbs.

"They could be hidden in smoke detectors, air purifiers," said Avila.

That's where hidden camera detectors come in. The devices use a red light to detect a camera lens and it also picks up Wi-Fi.

"Most of the cameras you do see work through Wi-Fi, meaning they're sending video and audio to a cell phone so they can physically hear and see everything without having be there," said Avila.

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