Extreme Associates and Its Owners, Robert Zicari And Janet Romano, Sentenced For Violating Federal Obscenity Laws

July 1, 2009

California-based Company Mailed and Distributed Obscene Materials Via the Internet

PITTSBURGH, July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A California-based company that produced and distributed obscene materials and its owners were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh today for violating federal obscenity laws, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster sentenced Extreme Associates, Inc., co-owners Robert Zicari, aka Rob Black, 35, and his wife, Janet Romano, aka Lizzie Borden, 32, both of Northridge, Calif., to one year and one day in prison. Extreme Associates, Zicari and Romano pleaded guilty on March 11, 2009, to a felony charge of conspiracy to distribute obscene material through the mails and over the Internet. Through their plea agreements, the company and its owners acknowledged responsibility for the conduct charged in Counts 2 through 10 of the indictment – distributing three videos through the mail and six individual video clips over the Internet to Western Pennsylvania. In addition, they forfeited to the United States the Internet domain name, extremeassociates.com, which was used to commit the violations. The company is now defunct.

“Extreme Associates produced and distributed sexually degrading material that portrayed women in the most vile and depraved manner imaginable,” stated Ms. Buchanan. “These prison sentences affirm the need to continue to protect the public from obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy material, the production of which degrades all of us,” she added.

At the time of their March plea hearing, Zicari and Romano, through Extreme Associates, Inc., admitted to mailing three obscene films entitled “Forced Entry – Director’s Cut,” “Cocktails 2 – Directors Cut,” and “Extreme Teen #24 ” to the Western District of Pennsylvania.

In addition, the defendants admitted transmitting six obscene video clips over the Internet through their Web site.

Ms. Buchanan said that in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in Miller v. California that materials are obscene if they satisfy a three part test:

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the material taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; and

(2) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the material depicts sexual conduct in patently offensive manner; and

(3) A reasonable person, viewing the material as a whole, finds that the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Extreme Associates and its owners conceded that the charged materials are obscene under the Miller test, and that the distribution of these materials is illegal.

Extreme Associates, Inc. was the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary entitled “American Porn,” which aired nationwide on Feb. 7, 2002. That program showed non-sexually explicit portions of the filming of the video, “Forced Entry.” As part of the investigation, undercover U.S. Postal Inspectors visited the Extreme Associates website and purchased certain obscene videotapes, which Extreme Associates delivered through U.S. mails. Inspectors also downloaded several obscene video clips.

In August 2003, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned a ten-count indictment against Extreme Associates for violating federal obscenity statutes. In January 2005, Judge Lancaster dismissed the indictment on the basis that the federal obscenity statutes were unconstitutional. The government appealed and Ms. Buchanan argued the case in October 2005 before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Dec. 8, 2005, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the District Court, denied the defendant’s constitutional challenge and held that the federal statutes regulating the distribution of obscenity do not violate any constitutional right to privacy. The case was then remanded back to the District Court. The Court of Appeals recognized that the U.S. Supreme Court had consistently upheld the obscenity statutes in the face of constitutional challenges.

U.S. Attorney Buchanan, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen R. Kaufman and Christine A. Sanner, and Damon A. King, a Trial Attorney with the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), prosecuted this case. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with investigative assistance from the Pornography Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Organized Crime and Vice Division and from CEOS’ High Technology Investigative Unit, conducted the investigation.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice

Source: newswire

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