New York Man Sentenced, Fined for Violating 2257 Law

Gretchen Gallen
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – After failing to provide the proper age-verification documentation on several underage models, a well-known author who once mingled with Ernest Hemingway was sentenced to three years in federal prison and fined $25,000.

Ralph G. Martell, 78, of Eaton, N.Y., was found guilty of felony charges by a U.S. District Court judge for producing sexually explicit photographs of models and violating federal 2257 law that requires photographers to acquire and maintain proof of age.

Federal law requires persons who produce such material to ascertain, by examination of identification documents, the true names and dates of birth of every person portrayed in the visual depictions, and to create and maintain individually identifiable records of each performer.

Martell's photographs, featuring five girls between the ages of 13-17, were first reported by a film processing company, which filed a report with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in January 2004.

Martell reportedly confessed to taking the explicit photographs and to not having the proper documentation to prove the girls' ages; however, he claims they lied about their ages.

The author recruited the models through local newspaper advertisements and had been conducting nude photography sessions since 2002, according to court documents. Following an inspection of the Martell's home, authorities found additional photographs of young women in sexually explicit poses.

Several of the girls involved gave affidavits to federal agents saying Martell was sometimes naked when he photographed them, and that he repeatedly offered them money for sex, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher. There were also allegations that Martell used alcohol and drugs to coerce his photography subjects.

Martell, who is known as a world traveler and the owner of a popular New York restaurant, also will be required to undergo three years of supervision after his sentence is complete.

His books include "When Does the Fun Start?" and "Never Stop Dancing."