Former reporter indicted on 20 charges in Rochester hidden-camera caseBy JOHN QUINN
Union Leader Correspondent
January 22. 2014 11:56AM
DOVER – A man with longstanding ties to the community could face up to 20 years in jail after police say that for more than a year he used a camera to record several women in a bathroom at an office building in Rochester.
On Jan. 16, a grand jury handed up the indictments against Conor Brendan Makem, 45, of 5 W. Concord St. He was charged with one count of falsifying physical evidence and 19 counts of violation of privacy.
Makem, who worked for The Rochester Times for the past decade, was terminated by his employers at Foster's Daily Democrat before he was arrested in Dover Oct. 17. Since then, he was released on $5,000 cash bail and was living with family members in Amesbury, Mass.
The charges were brought after a woman found a camera-like device Oct. 7. It was hidden in a ceiling of the second-floor women's bathroom in Merchants Plaza along Old Dover Road – near the offices of Foster's and The Times.
After speaking to Makem about the device, the woman alleged he removed it and told her he would call police. Instead, she said he claimed he threw the device into a nearby Dumpster, according to court records.
Officials accused Makem of using the camera to record six women in the bathroom at different times between July of 2012 and October of this year.
Police found probable cause to investigate child pornography and obscene matter and the interception and disclosure of telecommunications prohibited, according to the affidavits and warrants used to search Makem's workspace, home and his seized electronic items – including computers, phones, camera and portable storage devices.
Three days later, police obtained a warrant to seize Makem's cellphone, a camera, flash drives and some computers from the newspaper office and his Dover apartment. Although officers searched the Dumpster, the device was not recovered, according to court records.
During their investigation, police say they discovered images of child pornography, obscene material and images taken from the camera in the bathroom, according to court records.
Makem is the son of Irish folk musician Thomas "Tommy" Makem, who died in August of 2007.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Strafford County Superior Court Jan. 30 at 9 a.m.
Falsifying physical evidence is a Class B felony which could result in up to 3 ½ to 7 years in prison. The violation of privacy charges are Class A misdemeanors, with each count resulting in up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if Makem is convicted.