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Grand Jury Indicts Pornographer's Ex-Wife

October 27, 1993|TIMOTHY WILLIAMS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The ex-wife of a man once described as the world's most successful pornographer has been indicted for allegedly attempting to influence a juror and three witnesses in two cases against her former husband.

Naomi Delgado, 30, of Van Nuys was charged by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Cleveland with trying to influence a federal juror in a tax evasion case against Reuben Sturman, and with subsequently attempting to sway three federal grand jury witnesses during an investigation into Sturman's whereabouts after he escaped from prison, according to the Oct. 20 indictment.

On Tuesday, Delgado's attorney, Mike Maylock, called the charges vindictive, especially after his client cooperated with federal prosecutors.

"This appears to be a government vendetta against the ex-wife of Reuben Sturman, who has been a major government target for a number of years," Maylock said. "It is absolutely vindictive. She cooperated with the government with the understanding that she would not face charges. We intend to defend this case vigorously. "

According to a U. S. marshal's report, in early 1993 Delgado attempted to persuade Stephanie Friedman and Sylvia Richards--the couple's personal secretaries--and Friedman's brother Douglas to lie or conceal information from a grand jury about Sturman's location after his December, 1992, prison escape.

The marshal's report said Douglas Friedman picked Sturman up at a minimum-security prison in Kern County--where Sturman was serving a 10-year sentence--and dropped him off in Encino.

At the time of Delgado's alleged intervention, the grand jury was investigating extortion charges against Sturman on which he was later convicted, federal prosecutors said. He is being held in federal prison in Chicago, awaiting sentencing on that charge.

A second indictment charges Delgado with attempting "to influence a juror . . . in the discharge of his duty," during Sturman's November, 1989, federal tax fraud trial, which also ended in his conviction.

Prosecutor Bernard Smith of the U. S. Attorney's Organized Crime Strike Force in Cleveland declined to explain how Delgado allegedly attempted to influence the juror.

A legend in the pornography industry, Sturman, 69, transformed a small candy, tobacco and comic book operation into an international empire of 200 businesses--including peep-show booths, adult bookstores and magazine and film distributorships.

A 1986 report by the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography called him the world's largest distributor of pornography.

In 1990, he was sentenced to serve 10 years at the minimum-security prison in the Kern County community of Boron for violating federal obscenity laws and for evading at least $1.4 million in taxes by skimming cash from his businesses and depositing it into Swiss bank accounts.

Sturman and Delgado divorced in October, 1988, but the two continued to live together in a 5,160-square-foot Tudor-style house in Van Nuys until Sturman exhausted his appeals and began serving a prison sentence in July, 1992.

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