Sarah Freele said she hired ADT for her family’s safety and peace of mind.
But the technician who worked on her home security cameras, she said, might as well have been hiding in her bedroom closet for months, peaking through a crack in the door.
That former ADT employee, Telesforo Aviles, was sentenced Wednesday to a little more than four years in federal prison for illegally accessing the security cameras of Freele and more than 200 other ADT customers.
“He was logged onto my bedroom camera five times a day,” Freele told U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr at the sentencing hearing in Dallas. “He saw it all… Every intimate moment.”
Aviles, 35, faced a maximum of five years in prison for computer fraud under the terms of his plea agreement, in which he admitted to accessing customer accounts over 9,600 times since 2015.
He was cuffed and taken into custody to begin serving his sentence following the hearing.
The quiet and introverted technician, a senior supervisor with 17 years at ADT, was caught last year after the company was alerted by a customer to suspicious activity, said his lawyer, Tom Pappas. Aviles, who is married with five children, turned himself in when he was asked to, Pappas said.
“He’s mortified by what he did,” Pappas said. “He sees what he did as a betrayal of himself, too.”
Of the nearly 10,000 images Aviles accessed, about 40 were “sexual in nature” and none involved children, Pappas said.
An ADT spokesman said the company had no comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sid Mody had asked Starr to give Aviles the maximum sentence, saying that while 217 accounts were accessed, the total number of victims is much higher given that each household had multiple family members. That violation, he said, destroyed “in the worst way” their sense of feeling safe and secure at home.
“That’s going to affect them for the rest of their lives,” Mody told the judge.
Starr said he considered Aviles’ cooperation with authorities and lack of a criminal history as well as the fact that the conduct involved a “lengthy period of time.”
Aviles noted the homes that had “attractive women” and repeatedly logged into their accounts to view the footage, prosecutors said.
Freele said in her testimony that Aviles had accessed the ADT cameras in her bedroom and her young son’s bedroom almost 400 times in 2017 over a period of three months. Freele, who filed a federal lawsuit last month against ADT over the incident, said in court Wednesday and in her lawsuit that Aviles had persuaded her to install cameras in her bedrooms after she questioned whether it was really necessary.
“Aviles told her that it was necessary because a burglar could enter the house through the bedroom windows, and the cameras would monitor that,” her lawsuit says. “Of course, Aviles’ placement of the cameras had nothing to do with potential burglars.”
Instead, it was intended to give Aviles the “most interesting vantage point when spying on Freele” and her son, the lawsuit said.
“He could see everything,” Freele told the judge during the hearing.
The betrayal of trust, she said, has created in her fear and paranoia when dealing with everyday technology, such as Zoom meetings on her computer. Freele said she wonders what others in the virtual meetings can see of her home and what they are looking at.
“You’ve been violated and now you’re hyper aware of that,” she said.
Aviles told the judge he was “embarrassed” by his actions and he apologized to the victims and his former employer.
“I let them down and damaged the company,” he said.
ADT has since been hit with class-action lawsuits from customers over the breach.
After the first illicit download, it got more and more difficult to stop, Aviles said.
Aviles, who began working for ADT in 2003, admitted in plea documents that he began accessing customers’ security systems in 2015 by adding his personal email address to customers’ accounts during setup of the security system, court records say.
Technicians were allowed to add their employee email addresses to customers’ accounts during setup and then had to remove their access once the installation was complete. But Aviles would leave his personal email account in the system, which allowed him to watch real-time video footage from inside customers’ homes, court records show.
He sometimes claimed he needed to add himself temporarily to “test” the system, prosecutors said, while other times he gave himself access without customers knowing.
Aviles watched the footage, which included people undressing and having sex, for his own “sexual gratification,” according to prosecutors.
ADT said it has since changed its policy to avoid future breaches.
Pappas called his client’s conduct “egregious” but told Starr that Aviles did not share any customer images online or show them to his friends. He said Aviles cooperated with investigators when he was caught and was truthful about what he did.
“It could have been worse,” Pappas said. “They [victims] need to know it’s not going to turn up on the internet.”
In one case, Aviles installed cameras inside a house, including bathrooms, because the owner wanted to protect valuables. He logged in to the customer’s account 27 times, court records say.
And in April 2016, Aviles accessed an account 322 times after installing cameras in the home of a couple with “two young daughters,” authorities said.
He accessed another account 361 times. In that case, he installed cameras in five rooms in a house in which five underage children lived, court records said.