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U.S. Indicts 3 Firms on Obscenity Charges

September 28, 1991|JACK CHEEVERS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three San Fernando Valley firms that sell pornographic films and five of their executives have been indicted on federal obscenity charges, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

A federal grand jury in Oxford, Miss., returned the indictment this week against Vivid Video Inc. and VVD Corp. of Van Nuys and the firms' principals, Steven Hirsch and David James, federal officials announced in Washington.

The indictment charges that Hirsch, James and their companies conspired to produce and distribute "hard-core pornographic videotape films," justice officials said. Hirsch and James also were charged with shipping allegedly obscene videos to Mississippi from Los Angeles.

Also indicted on similar charges was VCA Labs Inc. and its owner, Russell Hampshire, federal authorities said. VCA has occupied offices in Chatsworth, but its telephones were disconnected as of Friday.

Hampshire and his company were indicted by a federal grand jury in Mobile, Ala. The indictment was returned Sept. 19 but was not unsealed until Friday. The firm's chief financial officer, Nolan Quan, and a manager, Don Diekmann, also were charged, authorities said.

None of those indicted could be reached for comment Friday. But a spokesman for a free-speech group financed by the adult-movie industry denounced prosecutors for "jury-shopping" in conservative cities.

The spokesman, Mark Schwed, said some films shown to grand jurors involved sex between men and between men and women of different races. He charged that the government was trying to obtain indictments by shocking jurors and by appealing to racist and anti-homosexual sentiments.

"It seems to me that either the government thinks the people of Mississippi are racist and homophobic, or that the government prosecutors are racist and homophobic," he said. One of the films shown to jurors, he said, involved five black men having sex with a white man.

The Justice Department said the indictments were the result of an initiative against Los Angeles-based major national distributors of pornography.

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