Man caught spying (January 9, 2010)
A Conyers man was sentenced to 12 years after he was caught and charged for putting a hidden video camera in the bathroom of his girlfriend's children.
Michael Deweese Smith, 51, entered a guilty plea in Rockdale County Superior Court on Wednesday to two counts of unlawful surveillance and seven counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Judge Sydney Nation sentenced him to 12 years, with eight to serve, with no contact with the victims and no possession of sexually explicit materials, and a $2,500 fine.
Smith, described as a cinematographer by profession, had placed a tiny video camera hidden in a fake plant in the bathroom of his girlfriend's daughter and teenaged son. The children discovered the video when they saw a flashing green light coming from the plant and reported it to their mother. Investigators discovered footage of Smith placing the camera in the plant and footage of the children using the bathroom and shower.
"This was devastating to her," said Assistant District Attorney Dabney Kentner. "They looked at him as a father figure. To say their trust was betrayed is an absolute understatement."
Smith's laptop was also discovered to contain videos from the camera and around 200 images from an international child pornography ring under FBI investigation that was sharing images produced by a Lafayette, Ga. man molesting and taping his young daughter.
Smith's attorney Wendi Armstrong requested his sentence to be delayed until Feb. 19 while he received medical treatment for bladder cancer.
When given a chance to make a statement, Smith apologized and added that he still cared for the two kids but would not have contact. "I apologize to the Rockdale County for the amount of tax dollars wasted on this," he said.