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Alleged potty peeper nabbed in Mahoning

Published April 30. 2013 05:05PM

A Nesquehoning man is being charged by Mahoning Township police with three counts of invasion of privacy following a situation which occurred in the restroom of Wal-Mart.

Police said Anthony Mistretta, 48, was charged with three counts of invasion of privacy, following an incident that happened on April 28.

Audie Mertz, officer in charge of the police department, urged that anyone who believes they may have been a victim or witness to the incident should contact Mahoning Police at (570) 386-2241.

Mertz, who is the arresting officer, said Mistretta was in the restroom for about an hour on the day of the incident.

The police officer states in his criminal complaint that on April 28, at about 3:08 p.m., he was dispatched to Wal-Mart after receiving a report that a male was "invading the privacy of other persons in the restroom."

Mertz spoke with Theodore Herr, the victim, who explained that he went into the restroom located in the rear of the store. When he went into a stall he noticed that the male using the stall next to him was standing with his feet in an unusual position.

Herr told police that while using the toilet, he looked up and observed a male watching him. The male offender was using a round mirror with a blue edge that was positioned over the top of the stall divider.

Police said Herr told them he yelled at the offender, who then fled the restroom. Herr exited the bathroom and located the offender walking inside the store.

Mertz writes in his complaint that Herr followed the offender and observed him attempt to dispose of the mirror several times by placing it on display shelves. Each time, Herr told the offender not to get rid of the mirror, and he picked it back up.

The alleged perpetrator, Mistretta, was followed by Herr outside the store.

Herr recorded the license plate number of the vehicle used by the offender.

Herr then went back into the restroom and checked the stall that the offender had used. He told police he found that the toilet flushing sensor had been wrapped with toilet paper. This action would have prevented the toilet from repeatedly flushing while the offender was inside the stall.

Mertz performed a registration records check and found the vehicle belonged to Mistretta.

The police officer writes in his criminal complaint, "I placed an all-out for the vehicle through communications. I then performed a brief review of security video footage for the men's restroom. I was able to identify the offender as the vehicle owner Anthony Mistretta from prior contact. I also noted that Anthony had been in the restroom for approximately an hour."

Chief of Police Shawn Smith of Nesquehoning located and detained Mistretta while Mertz reviewed the video. Mertz went to Nesquehoning Police Station where Mistretta was being held, and "I noted that he was wearing the same clothing as I had observed in the video."

Mertz said Mistretta told him he had gone to Wal-Mart shopping. The defendant said he was inside the store shopping for about an hour when he went to use the restroom. He told police he was inside the restroom for about five minutes when he heard someone yell "pervert."

Police said Mistretta told them he left the restroom and was confronted by a male accusing him of using a mirror to watch him. He denied using any mirrors and left the store.

Mertz advised Mistretta, says the criminal complaint, "that I knew he was lying and that I had observed him on video in the restroom for an hour. I also advised him that I knew he had covered the toilet sensor to prevent it from flushing."

Mistretta paused for a short time and asked to speak with Chief Smith alone, said Mertz.

During this interview, Mistretta allegedly admitted to Chief Smith that he had gone into the bathroom to view other people. Mistretta admitted using a mirror to observe three separate people while they were using the toilet, Mertz said.

Police also said Mistretta admitted covering the flushing sensor with toilet paper.

Police said Mistretta said he had his cell phone with him while in the restroom but denied using it to photograph or film anyone.

Mistretta stated he had thrown the mirror out of his car on Route 209 between Lansford and Nesquehoning. He showed Chief Smith and Mertz where he had tossed the mirror.

The mirror was found along the side of the road near Radio Station WLSH.

"The mirror was round with a blue edge as described by Herr," Mertz said.

Mertz said an examination of Wal-Mart security video indicated that Mistretta entered the restroom at 1:49 p.m. and didn't exit until 2:45 p.m. During the time Mistretta was inside the restroom 19 different people are observed entering, and exiting the room.

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