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Feds Charge MoviesByMail.com Owners With Selling Obscene Materials

Feds Charge MoviesByMail.com Owners With Selling Obscene Materials
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Jun 14, 2007 11:44 PM PDT    Text size: 
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Two Ohio men who own online adult retailer MoviesByMail.com have been accused of selling obscene materials via the Internet. In a federal complaint filed June 8 and unsealed today, the U.S. Attorney's Office has charged the pair with one count each of selling obscene material.

The investigation into Sami and Michael Harb's online enterprise, MoviesByMail.com, began in August when the FBI's Adult Obscenity Task Force received a tip that the website was selling alleged obscene DVDs. In March, FBI agents placed an order for "Max Hardcore: Pure Max 18," Max Hardcore: Extreme 12" and Extreme Associates' "Cocktails 5" and had them shipped to Utah.

Hardcore was indicted by the Justice Department May 17, and is being charged with 10 counts of obscenity. Hardcore is being arraigned on July 12.

"None of the three films has a plot line," an FBI investigator said in the complaint. "The films consist entirely of scenes of hardcore sexual acts being performed by multiple men and women."

According to U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, the movies have no artistic value.

"The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorneys' Offices nationwide have stepped up the prosecution of obscenity cases, as evidence increases of the harm of obscenity to American children and families," Tolman said. "As obscene materials continue to proliferate, they are becoming more accessible for the young and the innocent among us. At the same time they are becoming more extreme and degrading in content and present a growing threat to the wellbeing of American families and our society as a whole."

The Cleveland, Ohio-based Harbs are ordered to appear in Salt Lake City District Court before Judge Paul Warner on June 29.

"This charge was initiated by complaint," Tolman said. "It will now be up to a grand jury, in the exercise of its independent judgment, to decide if there is probable cause to believe the material is obscene in considering an indictment. Ultimately a Utah jury will decide if the material is obscene."

Kenneth Whitted of the Department of Justice's Obscenity Prosecution Task Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin Fojtik of Utah are prosecuting the case.

Assisting the FBI in the investigation were the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Salt Lake City and Cleveland and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The pair could face a maximum of five years in prison.

An email sent to Sami Harb seeking comment was not returned by press time.

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