A registered sex offender accused of secretly videotaping models while they were changing clothes at a swimsuit fashion show in Southampton Village last year pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident in a Riverhead courtroom on Friday morning.
Robert Liguori, 51, of Mastic Beach pleaded guilty in Suffolk County Criminal Court to eight counts of unlawful surveillance in the second degree, each a Class E felony, one count for each of the women he recorded changing during the “Off The Record” event, a Hamptons Wine & Dine Event at 230 Elm in July 2012.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8 and is facing a possible sentence of 18 months to three years in prison for each count of unlawful surveillance, to run concurrently. He may also see his current Level 2 sex offender status upgraded to Level 3 status, meaning that he has a high risk of offending again, and that he is a threat to public safety.
Mr. Liguori, who had been hired as a freelance photographer to record the fashion show, was accused of hiding a video camera in the models’ dressing room. Once the camera was found by an intern working at the event, fashion designer Lu Berry removed its memory card and reported the recording to the Southampton Village Police Department.
According to Ms. Berry, Mr. Liguori—who also goes by his middle name, Leonardo—was hired to film the fashion show by one of the models. The model had reportedly known and worked with him for four years but did not know that he was a registered sex offender, she said.
Mr. Liguori was arrested by Southampton Village Police on September 18, 2012, at his home.
In the courtroom on Friday morning, Mr. Liguori answered Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn’s questions directly in a quiet but confident manner.
When asked if he intentionally installed the video camera in the dressing room, Mr. Liguori said he wasn’t comfortable with the word “installed,” but confessed to the charge when Judge Kahn reworded the question asking him if he intentionally “put” the camera in the dressing room. He acknowledged that the women did not know they were being recorded.
Mr. Liguori said he understood that by pleading guilty he would lose his right to a trial by jury and that he likely would have to register as a higher-level sex offender.
In 1998, Mr. Liguori was arrested by the U.S. Customs Service and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with trafficking in child pornography, transmitting child pornography, and transporting child pornography interstate. He served 55 months in a federal prison. He was discharged from probation in April 2007. He is registered as a Level 2 sex offender, which means the courts determined there is a moderate chance he would re-offend.
According to Suffolk County Police, Mr. Liguori also was arrested on September 7 and charged with stalking in the third degree, a misdemeanor, for an incident unrelated to the unlawful surveillance charges.
According to Bob Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, Mr. Liguori had put on a dress at a Center Moriches women’s clothing store and lifted it up, exposing himself to a young female. The stalking charge was a result of Mr. Liguori returning to the store twice the next day.
His attorney, Christopher M. Gioe, of Piana and Gioe LLC in Central Islip, said that Mr. Liguori acknowledges that he made poor choices and wants to get the rehabilitation and counseling he needs to become a productive member of society. Mr. Gioe said when he asked Mr. Liguori why he did what he did, he said he didn’t have an explanation and said he just did it.
“He felt the need to do it,” Mr. Gioe said. “He is sorry for his actions and sorry for what he did to the girls.”