Ex-Hotel Employee Accused of Installing Hidden Camera Withdraws Plea

INDIO (CNS) - A former Palm Springs hotel employee who allegedly installed a hidden camera found by a guest inside a bathroom was allowed today to withdraw a guilty plea he entered last month, after saying the plea was entered without full appreciation of how it would affect his immigration status.

Oscar Patino-Aguilar, 31, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor invasion of privacy charge for allegedly hiding a camera inside a bathroom light fixture in a room at the Baymont Inn & Suites at 390 S. Indian Canyon Drive. He also pleaded guilty to bringing drugs into county jail and possession of controlled substances.

A woman staying at the hotel with her daughter, her daughter's friend and another woman discovered the camera in her room on June 13, 2016.

Patino-Aguilar, a DACA recipient, requested to withdraw the plea about a week after entering it, because he did not understand the consequences the plea could lead to him being deported., according to his attorney, Bosky Kathuria.

A signed declaration by Patino-Aguilar indicates he believed any immigration consequences would only apply to illegal immigrants.

He was slated to be sentenced to two years in state prison, with only one to be served in custody.

His next court date is a Nov. 20 felony settlement conference.

According to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Patino- Aguilar showed the women and two teenage girls to their room. The group then went to the pool, but when one of the women returned to the hotel room to retrieve some water, she noticed a hotel worker wearing an ``Oscar'' nameplate inside the room with the lights off and curtains drawn.

The woman told police that he was attempting to leave the room as she was returning. She searched through her belongings to see if anything had been taken, then noticed that the light bulb directly above the toilet was positioned at a strange angle. Upon further examination, she found ``a small electronic object hugging the light bulb,'' aimed toward the toilet, according to the declaration.

Patino-Aguilar was later detained in the hotel lobby and initially denied any knowledge of the camera, but later admitted to a Palm Springs police officer that he placed the camera in the room, according to court papers.

Two methamphetamine pipes were also allegedly found in his pants pockets.

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