Ohio men sentenced for mailing porn movies to Utah

Published November 19, 2009 5:40 pm
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Two cousins from Ohio who shipped hard-core pornographic movies to Utah were each sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in federal prison.

Sami Harb, 44, and Michael Harb, 35, who operated the now-defunct Cleveland-based Movies by Mail, had each pleaded guilty to one count of selling obscene material.

U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman has called the films violent and extreme and lacking artistic value.

The Harbs faced up to five years in prison. Sentencing guidelines called for 15 to 21 months.

In court documents, defense attorneys Jerry Mooney and Paul Cambria pleaded for home confinement. They characterized the Harbs as hard-working men with families who depend upon them. Sami Harb's wife suffers from a heart condition and Michael Harb's 5-year-old daughter has cancer.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced them to 366 days, followed by three years supervised release.

The investigation began in 2006 when the FBI's Adult Obscenity Task Force in Washington, D.C., got a tip about Movies by Mail, and agents say they were able to buy obscene DVDs on the company's Web site. In March, a Salt Lake City agent placed an online order and three of the movies were deemed to be obscene.

"None of the three films has a plot line," an FBI investigator wrote in a statement detailing the charge. "The films consist entirely of scenes of hard-core sexual acts being performed by multiple men and women."

Postal records show that Movies by Mail sent 683 packages in 2006 to Utah, 149 of them to Salt Lake City and the rest around the state, according to the complaint.

The Harbs had no role in producing the movies.

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