FBI lending hand in Makem computer probe

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Conor Makem

ROCHESTER - Police say the study of computers seized from a former Rochester Times and Foster’s Daily Democrat reporter arrested on Invasion of Privacy charges could be lengthy as investigators have to inspect every image on the devices one at a time as they search for more victims from the bathroom camera case as well as child porn images in addition to those already found.

Connor Makem, 45, of Amesbury, Mass., was arrested last month on 25 counts of Invasion of Privacy and evidence tampering for allegedly planting a camera in a women’s bathroom where he worked and then allegedly disposing of the camera after police began their investigation.

The female victims listed in police charges were unknowingly videotaped “in various stages of undress” while in the Merchant’s Plaza women’s bathroom shared byFoster’s Rochester Bureau staff and several other businesses.
Rochester Police are investigating several computers and electronic devices used by Makem, including his iMac computer on which police say they found several dozen images of child pornography. Makem, however, has not been charged in connection with any images of child porn.

Rochester Police Captain Paul Toussaint said on Wednesday that a forensic study such as the one that Rochester Police and the FBI are now engaged in with Makem’s computers can be painstakingly slow as investigators have to open every individual image.

He said there are programs that can search for child porn that is trafficked around the world, but in some cases there are no markers and each image must be inspected, especially if they are not “known images.”

Toussaint said most of the forensic study is being done in Rochester, but some “storage devices” had been damaged and been sent to the FBI for analysis. He would not comment on the type of storage devices or the nature of the damage.

He also would not comment on whether the investigation had turned up child porn images in addition to the “dozens” already mentioned in a police affidavit.

Makem, 45, was terminated by Foster’s hours before his initial arrest.
He is charged with 25 misdemeanor counts of Invasion of Privacy involving six alleged victims and one felony count of Falsification of Physical Evidence for disposing of the camera, police said.

An accomplished musician in a band that plays traditional Irish music, Makem had to miss a whirlwind Music Tour of Ireland hosted by the Makem and Spain Brothers band earlier this month after surrendering both his American and Irish passports.

Makem was forced to give up his American passport to comply with bail conditions after his initial arrest on Oct. 17, and after his second arrest a week later on several additional counts of Invasion of Privacy, he was required to give up his Irish passport as well.

Makem, who was born in County Louth, Ireland, has dual citizenship.

The Makem and Spain Brothers band tours nationwide. So far this fall they have played venues in New York, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.
A concert scheduled this fall at the Rochester Opera House has been postponed.

The initial police investigation began on Oct. 7 when the woman who first discovered the suspected camera called police to ask if Makem had contacted them about the device as he had promised, and officers realized he had not.
Police on Oct. 10 executed a search warrant at the Foster’s Rochester Bureau at Merchants Plaza and seized computers and other electronic devices used by Makem, including some owned by Foster's.
A felony Falsification of Evidence conviction can bring up to seven years in prison, while Invasion of Privacy, a Class A Misdemeanor, can draw a year apiece.

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