A grand jury indicted a North Hills cardiologist for illegally installing a hidden camera in the office bathroom of his Manhasset office to secretly view patients and employees without their knowledge, Nassau prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Vincent Pacienza, 54, was indicted on Oct. 29 on a charge of unlawful surveillance. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday morning at Nassau County Court in Mineola. He is due back in court Jan. 27.
Pacienza told some of his female employees in June 2008 that he would be installing an air purifier in the office restroom that was shared by both employees and patients and the doctor also closed down the employees-only bathroom, forcing everyone in the office to use the bathroom with the air purifier, prosecutors said.
The air purifier contained a hidden camera with a direct video feed to a monitor underneath Pacienza’s desk but the camera was discovered that same month when an employee opening the office mail discovered an invoice to Pacienza for the hidden camera and air purifier from a Web site specializing in surveillance equipment, prosecutors said. Pacienza was arrested on June 13, 2008.
Prosecutors alerted the New York State Department of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct, which could also suspend or revoke Pacienza’s medical license.
“This defendant not only abused the trust of his employees and his patients, but his entire profession,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement. “My office will aggressively pursue and prosecute anyone who uses their professional position to exploit others.”
Pacienza’s attorney, Dennis Lemke, said there is no evidence his client ever recorded any images with the camera, which he referred to as a “nanny-cam.” He said his client is a respected cardiologist who continues to maintain a “thriving” business despite the allegations.