Owners Charged With 6 Obscenity Counts

Anne Winter
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Two owners of online adult retailer accused early this month of violating obscenity law have been formally charged with six counts of distributing obscene materials, three via the Internet and three via the U.S. Postal Service.

If convicted, Sami R. Harb and Michael Harb of Cleveland could face up to five years in prison for each count. The two are expected in court July 12.

The investigation into the duo's online enterprise 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.

Just days before the two were arrested, Hardcore himself was indicted on 10 counts of federal obscenity. He is to appear in California court July 12.

Sami Harb told XBIZ that it was hardly a coincidence that the titles used against him happen to be from a company already under indictment.

"That was convenient, wasn't it?" Harb said. "No one gets that lucky. It's [the government] flexing its muscles, showing the conservatives and Republicans that they're doing something."

According to U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, these 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."

According to court documents, distributed 683 packages to Utah addresses in 2006.

"That tells me somebody there wanted them," Harb said.

Harb also said he doesn't expect to go to prison.

"I don't think it'll get to that point," he said. "I don't think that's [the government's] intention — it's always been their intention to put people like us out of business. I guess the people who want to buy [adult movies] don't count."