Former Brit Porn Salesman Says Mobsters Tortured Him
Philip Bailey said he was visiting the U.S. in 1992 trying to drum up advertising for boss Richard Desmond’s fleet of 50 adult magazines when the attack occurred. Desmond also is owner of Television X, the U.K.’s most prominent adult pay-per-view TV network.
The mobster, Richard Martino, a well-known soldier in the Gambino crime family who in 2005 was found guilty of bilking Internet porn surfers out of millions, had spent $1 million on ads for phone sex lines in Desmond’s magazines but allegedly didn’t feel he was getting his money’s worth. According to Bailey, Martino wanted to send a message to Desmond with the beating.
Bailey claims he received a phone call from a perspective advertiser offering to send a limousine to bring him to a meeting. But Bailey said the limo stopped at a street corner to pick up two “swarthy, heavyset” men who pistol whipped him and used a stun gun on his testicles.
“We’re here because of your fucking boss,” the gunman allegedly said. “We want our money back. Tell your fucking boss it’s a small pond. If your boss sets foot here, he’s a dead man — a fucking dead man.”
The thugs then allegedly tossed Bailey from the limo and dumped his suitcase on top of him. Bailey said he stumbled to a nearby veterinary clinic, where he was treated for his injuries. British Airways deemed him too banged up to fly, so Bailey spent a few days convalescing at then-Penthouse-publisher Bob Giccione’s mansion.
To ad insult to injury, when Bailey returned to England to convey the story to Desmond, the porn magnate allegedly downplayed the ordeal and admitted that he had knowingly ripped off Martino by placing several of the mobster’s ads in nonexistent magazines. Desmond denies the allegations.
Bailey quit the job and kept mum about the whole affair for more than a decade, until prosecutors asked him to testify at Martino’s sentencing for a 2005 conviction on racketeering and Internet fraud charges.
Martino apparently provided the mob with more than just muscle. Referred to by one government informant as “a monster earner,” he was the mastermind behind a massive online fraud scheme in which surfers were induced to provide credit card information to adult websites for the purpose of age verification with the promise that their credit cards would not be billed.
According to the government, however, unwitting victims were charged recurring fees of up to $90. The ruse was said by prosecutors at a trial earlier this year to net Martino and his associates more than $230 million.
The sites in question used content from magazines owned by Crescent Publishing Group, including High Society and Playgirl. Crescent was not charged and, according to the indictment against Martino, was said to be returning one out of every three dollars the sites generated in 1999.