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Ex-worker pleads guilty to placing camera in 3M shower

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ST. PAUL — A former 3M worker pleaded guilty to interference with privacy after he placed a secret camera in the company fitness center to spy on naked and partially dressed women.

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Thomas John Herold, 66, of Woodbury, submitted an Alford plea Tuesday to all nine counts in Ramsey County District Court, meaning he did not admit wrongdoing but agreed the state has enough evidence to convict him. The charges are gross misdemeanors.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 9.

His attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

According to the criminal complaint:

A female employee discovered the camera April 27, 2012. She went for a run over her lunch break and returned to the company fitness center in Maplewood.

While showering, the woman noticed “a blinking blue light on a small plastic tube” under the soap dispenser, the complaint said. Suspecting it was a camera, she turned it in to 3M security. Security told her she had been photographed with a mini-pen camera.

The camera was attached to a USB device, colored beige to match the soap dispenser and shower. It had been plugged into Herold’s laptop work computer, which also contained thousands of images of pornography, analysis of the computer showed.

Investigators also found Post-It notes in Herold’s work area with initials written next to various times. The initials matched those of nine women who had used the fitness center, according to keycard access records for the fitness center.

Herold, a contract employee, no longer works for 3M, company spokeswoman Donna Fleming Runyon said Wednesday.

“His contract was terminated in April 2012 when his actions were discovered,” she said.

Herold’s online LinkedIn profile said he worked in “regulatory and risk assessments” for 3M.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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