By Thomas Tracy
An area high school janitor moved from sweeping the floors to peeping into ladies toilets and locker rooms, reportedly videotaping what he saw, police alleged last week. Officials said that Michael Conte, a Department of Education employee assigned to janitorial services at Westinghouse Career and Technical High School, 105 Tech Place, was arrested yesterday for allegedly installing a surveillance camera in the bathroom of a female friend’s home in Seldon, Long Island. The investigation circled back to Brooklyn when, during a debriefing, Conte confessed that he has been taping women in the bathrooms of area schools for close to 20 years. According to the criminal complaint filed at the Kings County District Attorney’s office, Conte had been “secretly taping women using the 4th floor faculty bathroom in Westinghouse High School since the beginning of the school year in 2005” and, at least, “through December 24, 2005.” He had also taped women inside the ladies locker room at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, when he worked as a machinist there over a decade ago, officials said. Police said he videotaped the women from a small camera installed in a hole in the wall. The images were recorded on his Sony Handycam, and then transferred to DVD. Within moments of Conte’s release on bail on Long Island, New York City investigators him up, charging him with unlawful surveillance and endangering the welfare of a child. Police added the charge of criminal possession of a weapon when, after executing a search warrant, they found a shotgun in Conte’s Staten Island home on the 40 block of Jerome Avenue. Cops also found Conte’s video collection. Police said over 800 videotapes and DVDs, some believed to contain images of women at Westinghouse High School using the bathroom, were recovered along with a handful of pinhole cameras. The images date back to the late 1980s, he said. Conte’s activities weren’t limited to his work. According to published reports, Conte had also placed a camera in the bathroom of his home, which he shared with his mother and sister. Schools referred all calls to a Department of Education spokesperson, who described Conte as a part-timer who worked for the head custodian at Westinghouse High School. Upon news of his arrest, the Department of Education began proceedings necessary to fire Conte. “Mr. Conte has been relieved of his duties and he never again will be allowed near anyone in our schools,” said Department of Education General Counsel Michael Best. As of this writing, Conte was remanded to custody after being unable to pay the $75,000 bail at his arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court.