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WESTMONT, Ill. — Neighbors said Sunday that it’s the apparent normality of the 47-year-old man who lived in a suburban Chicago town house that’s made his arrest for allegedly stalking and secretly taping ESPN reporter Erin Andrews in the nude so upsetting.
They said Michael David Barrett kept the yard in front of his two-story home neat, often played golf and enjoyed cooking on his backyard patio grill. But neighbors say Barrett kept to himself and no one on his street in Westmont, about 20 miles west of Chicago, seemed to know him well.
Dolares Shea, the head of the neighborhood association, lives across the street from Barrett. The 79-year-old woman called the allegations shocking and said there’s nothing that made Barrett stand out in a community favored by retirees, doctors and lawyers.
Barrett was being held in jail over the weekend after his arrest Friday at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Investigators believe he recorded ESPN reporter Erin Andrews by aiming a cell phone camera through an altered peephole in the door of her hotel room.
A judge was expected to decide Monday whether Barrett should be returned to California as a federal prisoner or free on bail. He faces charges in Los Angeles, where TMZ is based, of interstate stalking and could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
An FBI affidavit said Barrett requested and stayed in a room near Andrews at a Tennessee hotel where seven videos were likely taken. An eighth video may have been shot at a Milwaukee hotel. Barrett is accused of posting the videos online and trying to sell them to celebrity Web site TMZ.com.
Barrett made an initial appearance Saturday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in Chicago. “I don’t think he’s even had a traffic ticket,” said his lawyer, Rick Beuke, who said he has known Barrett for a decade.
“He’s as regular a guy as you’ll ever meet — a great friend,” Beuke added. “I must have calls from 30 people wanting to know what they could do to help.”
Beuke said Barrett has been divorced for some time and has children. The Combined Insurance Company of America confirmed that Barrett was an employee who worked in sales management.
Several TV networks and newspapers had aired clips or printed screen grabs from the videos of Andrews in July. The 31-year-old has covered hockey, college football, college basketball and Major League Baseball for ESPN since 2004 and was named “sexiest sportscaster” by Playboy magazine in 2008 and 2009.
Andrews was working at the Auburn-Tennessee game Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn. Before kickoff, she posed for photos with Tennessee donors who get to stand on the sideline.
She had issued a statement after the arrest thanking FBI agents and federal prosecutors for their work and said she hoped the case will eventually help others.
An FBI affidavit said agents reviewed eight videos and all but one appeared to be taken in a single hotel. It said Andrews reviewed several and said they appeared to be of her in a room at the Marriott Nashville at Vanderbilt University.
Authorities said Barrett occupied an adjacent room, and that the peephole in the door of Andrews’ room appeared to have been modified with a hacksaw to permit videos to be made with a cell phone camera.
Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc. said in a statement that the company takes its guests’ security and privacy seriously and has been cooperating with investigators.
FBI agents also went to the Ramada Conference Center in Milwaukee, formerly the Radisson Airport. The affidavit said Barrett made a reservation in the hotel for a night when Andrews was staying there and that the peephole in the room that she occupied had been similarly modified.
But they said Barrett never checked in to that hotel, and the interior of the room did not fully match what was seen on the eighth video.
Wyndam Worldwide Corp., which owns Ramada, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The affidavit said that in making his reservation in Nashville, Barrett specifically requested a room next to Andrews, who was referred to in the FBI document as “individual A.”
Reservation records in the hotel’s computer showed the notation: “INFO-GST RQST TO RM NXT TO (individual A),” the affidavit said.
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