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California Briefing / Northridge

Pair plead guilty in obscenity case

March 12, 2009|Associated Press

The owners of a Northridge company that distributed videos depicting deviant sexual conduct pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to distribute obscene material.

The pleas from Robert Zicari and his wife, Janet Romano, in federal court in Pittsburgh come after a nearly six-year battle over whether the 1st Amendment protects such videos, which included scenes of simulated rape.

Advocates for the couple said U.S. Atty. Mary Beth Buchanan brought the case in western Pennsylvania because the area's "community standards" -- which govern what is obscene according to the U.S. Supreme Court -- are more conservative than California's.

The couple pleaded guilty because prosecutors agreed to forgo calculating how much they earned from the business, which could have affected their potential sentence, said Zicari's attorney, H. Louis Sirkin of Cincinnati.

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