Affidavit: Ex-TABC agent hid camera devices in bathroom, bedroom of stepdaughter

Posted Monday, Jan. 14, 2013  Print Reprints

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Ink pen cameras were tucked in a crossword puzzle magazine in a bathroom, hidden inside a hanging toy bag in a shower and planted atop a dresser in the bedroom of a 24-year-old woman who authorities say was the sexual target of her stepfather, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram on Monday.

The woman repeatedly found the pens and eventually discovered that they were surveillance devices with visual and audio recording capabilities, the affidavit states.

The woman, mother of a young child, contacted police in November.

Within days, former Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent Martin Herrmann was arrested and charged with improper photography or visual recording. The 24-year-old woman and her young child had been living with him in far north Fort Worth.

Herrmann, 50, was free Monday on $25,000 bail, which he posted shortly after his arrest in December. He could not be reached for comment.

Anthony Simpson of Fort Worth, Herrmann's attorney, declined to comment on the charge.

Herrmann has his first court appearance next week in Criminal District Court No. 372.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The affidavit gave this account of the case:

In March, the woman found what she believed was an ink pen inside a magazine on the back of a toilet and gave it to Herrmann, telling him she was worried that her young child would play with it.

On multiple occasions, the young mother found pens in the bathroom, once even inside the toy bag. But the bag was too high for the child to reach, so the mother was stumped.

Several times, she discovered a pen in her bedroom, each time giving it to Herrmann.

In August, the woman found Herrman installing a motion detection device in her bedroom; he explained that it was for security.

On Nov. 17, the 24-year-old again found pens in her bedroom and another in her bathroom.

Suspicious, she researched the pens and the security system and discovered that they were surveillance devices. She plugged one of the cameras into a computer and found video recordings of her in the bathroom and bedroom.

Officers in the Fort Worth Police Department's digital forensic lab discovered that the pens contained evidence that videos had been deleted as far back as June.

Investigators seized a laptop computer, a Nook e-reader, an ink pen camera, two desktop computers, a Polaroid tablet and other electronic equipment from Herrmann's home on Nov. 21.

TABC officials fired him Nov. 28 when he refused to cooperate with the commission's separate investigation.

Herrmann had worked mostly as an enforcement agent in Arlington but was previously in the Midland-Odessa area, a TABC official told the Star-Telegram last month.

The former TABC officer had no record of disciplinary actions or complaints against him since he began working with the commission on Oct. 1, 2005, officials said.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr