Sentencing is scheduled for July 1.
Black and Borden face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The company faces up to five years probation and a $500,000 fine.
The sentencing range could be lower, depending on what set of advisory guidelines should be used — dating from either 2002 or today — and there also could be enhanced measures because the videos included sadistic or masochistic scenes.
Adult industry attorney Clyde DeWitt told XBIZ that guidelines to federal sentencing are now only advisory.
"Given that this judge believes that the whole statute is unconstitutional — although the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with him — I would think he would lean toward leniency," he said. "Apparently the battle is over the offense category, since neither of them has a criminal record, or at least not one that would change the criminal history category."
Moments after Wednesday's 9 a.m. hearing, adult industry attorney H. Louis Sirkin said that plea negotiations in the case began a month ago.
"Concessions from both sides made it in the best interests of all parties [to plead guilty,]" he said. "This has gone on for a very, very long time. Everybody wants to get on with their lives."
One of those concessions, Sirkin said, is that there will not be a battle to determine how much revenue the company received from the sale of videos, which could have significantly increased the potential prison time.
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said, "the materials produced by Extreme Associates were so far across the line between pornography and obscenity, we believe any jurisdiction across the country would have found the materials obscene."
In 2002, an undercover U.S. Postal Service inspector bought porn videos through Extreme Associates' membership site, ExtremeAssociates.com.
A federal grand jury indicted the couple in August 2003 on 10 counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. mailing obscene or crime-inducing matters and transporting obscene matter for sale.
Lancaster originally dismissed the case in January 2005, ruling that the anti-obscenity statutes were unconstitutional when applied to Extreme Associates because they violated an individual’s right to privacy.
The Justice Department appealed that ruling before the 3rd Circuit, which overruled Lancaster.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Extreme’s appeal from the 3rd Circuit, sending the case back to Lancaster for trial. Upon learning of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, Zicari said it was “a big fuck you.”
Diane Duke, the Free Speech Coalition’s executive director, told XBIZ that she had hoped the case would have gone to trial to mete out obscenity issues.
“We are disappointed that the case was not heard because we believe that under contemporary community standards in this case the materials would not have been found obscene,” she said. “When the case is presented in a clear and comprehensive manner, people may not like the content, but they are reticent to convict expression between consenting adults.”
But Duke couldn’t blame Black and Borden, who have been fighting their case for more than six years.
“These [obscenity] cases are long, exhausting and expensive,” she said. “Ultimately the decision as to whether to take a plea is up to the defendant.
“[They] made a plea as to what they believed were in their best interest in getting on with their lives. In obscenity cases, even if you are found innocent, the results can be devastating.”
Extreme Associates still operates numerous websites, including SlapHappyGirls.com, DickSuckingCunt.com, AssEaterGirls.com and others.
Its website's tagline reads: “Hardcore pornography that the government does not want you to see.”