Utah Federal Grand Jury Charges Cleveland Men With Obscenity

SALT LAKE CITY - Two Cleveland men have been charged by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City with distribution of obscene materials and related offenses, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman of the District of Utah announced today.The indictment returned today charges Cleveland residents Sami R. Harb and Michael Harb, doing business as Movies by Mail, with three counts of engaging in a business of selling or transferring obscene DVDs, and three counts of using the mails to deliver obscene DVDs. Representatives from Movies by Mail were unavailable for comment at press time.If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release. A summons was issued ordering the defendants to appear for arraignment on July 12 in Salt Lake City before U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells.The indictment supersedes a complaint filed in federal court in Salt Lake City on June 8, 2007, and unsealed on June 14 following a search of the Harbs' offices and warehouse in Cleveland.According to the indictment and other court documents, three DVDs including Max Hardcore's Pure Max 18 and Extreme 12, and Extreme Associates' Cocktails 5, were ordered from a Web site operated by the Harbs and mailed to an address in Salt Lake City as part of an FBI undercover investigation. The indictment alleges that these movies are "obscene." Court documents disclose that Movies by Mail delivered 683 packages to addresses in the state of Utah during 2006; 149 of them to addresses in Salt Lake City. In late May, the Department of Justice indicted producer/director Max Hardcore on federal obscenity charges filed in Tampa, Florida. The ten-count indictment charges him with "transporting obscene matter via mail and computer." ??The indictment states that Hardcore "knowingly used an interactive computer service [...] in and affecting interstate commerce for the purpose of selling and distributing obscene matter," citing the transmission of five online video clips. Hardcore is also charged with mailing five DVD copies that were deemed obscene.

Hardcore's attorney Jeffrey J. Douglas called the director "the most recent target of the Justice Dept's effort to suppress free speech." "These are five movies depicting consensual acts between adults, exclusively for consenting adults, there is nothing criminal about these movies," Douglas said in a statement.