Operators Get 1-Year Sentences

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The operators of were sentenced Thursday to one year and one day each in prison after they both pleaded guilty to one count of distributing obscene material.

Cousins Sami Harb and Michael Harb also agreed to forfeit assets and face three years probation after release. As part of the plea, other charges from the 2003 federal indictment were dropped.

The charges were tied to the mailing of three films — "Max Hardcore: Pure Max 18," Max Hardcore: Extreme 12" and Extreme Associates' "Cocktails 5."

All three movies were shipped via the U.S. Postal Service to Utah by the FBI's Obscenity Task Force in Cleveland, where is based.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Fojtik, in a statement to the court, said that MoviesByMail case represents “community response to the increasing degradation depicted in adult pornography.”

“The adult pornography charged in this case went so far beyond any sense of community values, it warranted criminal prosecution,” she said. “While the defense has made much of this matter being brought in Utah, these images represent conduct that is beyond human dignity in any community in this country.”

Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, challenged Fojtik's comments, claiming that the appetite for porn in Utah is insatiable.

"When MoviesByMail operators were indicted [in 2003], Utah was ranked the No. 1 state in the U.S. for downloading adult content,” Duke told XBIZ. “Clearly, there exists demand for adult content in Utah.

"Yet, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karin M. Fojtik feels comfortable in speaking for all communities. No one is forced to watch adult content. The only victims here are the producers or distributors whose lives have been torn apart by an overzealous and oppressive Bush Department of Justice.”

Duke noted that the adult entertainment industry should always keep in mind those individuals who have faced obscenity battles.

“Please keep those who have suffered under this oppression — the Harbs, Rob Black, Lizzie Borden, Max Hardcore and John Stagliano in your heart and minds," Duke said. "We cannot forget that they have fought and are fighting for all of us and they deserve our ongoing support."

The Harbs did not play a role in producing the films, but the judge said they failed in their responsibility to ensure those with obscene content were not distributed.

They will serve time in a minimum-security facility in Cleveland.