Ira Isaacs Sentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison, Fined $10K
LOS ANGELES — Fetish producer and distributor Ira Isaacs was sentenced Wednesday morning to 48 months in federal prison and fined $10,000 at federal court in Los Angeles.
After serving his sentence that begins on Feb. 19, Isaacs will be subject to three years of supervised release. In addition, he was also ordered to pay $950 in court assessments.
Isaacs attorney Roger Jon Diamond indicated that his client will appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Isaacs was found guilty in April 2012 on five counts of violating federal obscenity laws over the distribution of "Mako’s First Time Scat, " "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7," "Hollywood Scat Amateurs #10" and "Japanese Doggie 3 Way."
It was the third obscenity trial for the distributor and producer, who all along contended that the works he had been charged with have artistic value and can't be deemed obscene. The first two ended with mistrials.
In motions prior to sentencing, U.S. prosecutors had attempted to sway the court to enhance Isaacs' sentencing two levels to seven years and three months by using the theory that "vulnerable victims" were exploited in the commission of federal offenses.
But prosecutors backed off on that plan after U.S District Judge George King said in his "tentative view" that the vulnerable victim sentencing adjustment does not apply in the case.
King said that if scat actors consented to performing in the films, then as consenting adults who helped produce obscene materials, they are better characterized as co-participants in the offenses than as victims. The performers at center of the scrapped testimony include Veronica Jett and another former adult performer named April.
The pair of actresses told federal prosecutors that they never would have taken part in several scat films if they had not been high after allegedly being fed drugs by Isaacs at the time of the shoots.
Jett attended Wednesday's sentencing hearing.
King, in his ruling over sentencing, denied Isaacs a break from federal sentencing guidelines, saying that there was "no material difference" in the types of videos he was selling after his obscenity conviction in April.
In September, King called off a sentencing hearing after new evidence was introduced by prosecutors that included testimony from an LAPD officer who said Isaacs appeared on a KFI-AM talk radio show hosted by David Cruz, asking listeners towards the end of the show to visit his now-defunct site, ScatMoviez.com, and buy videos.
The LAPD officer ordered and received through the U.S. mail four videos — "Euro Scat Girls," "'My Pony Lover," "Violet: Dog and Pig Fuckers" and "Hot Girl With Dogs" — that weren't part of the Isaacs obscenity trial.
King said that Isaacs' post-conviction behavior was pertinent to sentencing. Diamond, however, asked the court to grant Isaacs full probation.
"I have viewed the videos for this sentencing hearing, and I find them just as obscene as those used in Mr. Isaacs' conviction," King said. "He has not accepted his responsibility to the community."
King further said that he didn't buy Isaacs' contention that his operation was based on the vision of art.
"I have totally rejected during the course of the trial that he's a shock artist," King said. "He has cloaked himself as a First Amendment defendant. But the fact is that he did it for money. He's not a defender of the First Amendment. He cheapens the First Amendment."
Isaacs, who was released on his own recognizance, but must report to the Bureau of Prisons next month, told XBIZ after the hearing that he still believes his works are covered under his constitutional right for freedom of expression and that hopefully the appeals court will swing his way.
"Bottom line is the artist determines their art," Isaacs told XBIZ. "And when you trash them for taking chances, it is dangerous. Because once you take an artist and you throw them in prison, it gives the message, 'don't take risks, dont try anything new.'"
"There is no freedom of speech if you have limitations," he said.
Diamond, who has represented Isaacs for all five years after he was charged with obscenity violations, told XBIZ after sentencing that he's in total agreement with Isaacs.
"The First Amendment was designed to protect unpopular speech," Diamond told XBIZ. "Popular speech doesn't need protection. So it is an oxymoron to say you violate the principal of the First Amendment by giving something out that is bad."
Isaacs' sentence was less than the 51 to 71 months that U.S. prosecutors had sought, but very close to other successful federal prosecutions.
One example would be the federal sentencing involving Max Hardcore, who was recently released. Hardcore's sentence in Florida was 42 months, according to industry attorney J.D. Obenberger, who did not work on either of the cases.
"[Isaac's] sentencing is certainly on the high end," Obenberger told XBIZ on Wednesday. "Because of the way the federal guideline point system works, there was no way he would get just probation. And I assume that he didn't get max out [on points] was because Isaacs admitted to his actions and was upfront in court."
As for an appeal, Obenberger said that the three Isaacs trials could offer "intriguing" possibilities.
"First there was a recusal of a judge [over Judge Alex Kozinski's personal website that included salacious material] and subsequent events like Isaacs not being allowed to testify as an expert witness as an artist on his own behalf — all of these things are very interesting," Obenberger said.