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Houston man charged with placing hidden camera in airplane bathroom

Posted: 5:23 PM, Aug 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-11 17:23:53-04
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A Malaysian man, and Halliburton employee, is facing charges of video voyeurism after he allegedly planted a hidden camera in an airplane bathroom earlier this year.

Choon Ping Lee is accused of planting the video camera on United Airlines flight 646 from San Diego to Houston on May 5. The criminal complaint, filed in the Southern District of Texas earlier this week, outlines the lengths FBI investigators went to track down Lee after a fellow passenger on that flight stumbled across the camera.

A woman flying in first class on the flight went to use the bathroom and "noticed an item with a blue blinking light" that was "located near the cabinet and wall area close to a door hinge," according to the criminal complaint.

The woman picked up the item with a paper towel and gave it to the flight crew after leaving the bathroom.

Once the flight landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the item was handed over to United Airlines Corporate Security, which confirmed it was a video camera, according to the court documents.

That's when the effort to track down the owner began.

According to the complaint, security viewed footage on the camera and saw the man who installed it on the plane was wearing a watch on his left wrist and small bracelet on his right, as well as a blue short-sleeve shirt and blue jeans. They could not, however, see the man's face.

FBI San Diego and the Houston Police Department viewed surveillance footage from the respective airports and managed to locate the man in question and matched his outfit to Lee, who was sitting in first class on United Airlines flight 646.

Authorities also found deleted files from the device from a previous Emirates Airlines flight, including video of a flight attendant, according to the complaint.

Lee was identified as an employee at Halliburton, which provided previous work itineraries, including business travel on Emirates Airlines.

Halliburton provided "a real time photo of Lee as he walked down a hallway at his current job site" and he was wearing the watch and bracelet from the United video.

The oil company, where former Vice President Dick Cheney was once chairman and CEO, released a statement to Houston ABC station KTRK , saying, "Halliburton is aware of the situation and is cooperating with the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office in their investigation. We have a robust Code of Business Conduct and expect every employee to abide by the standards contained in the Code and all applicable laws."

If convicted, Lee could face up to one year in prison.

ABC News' Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.