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Author Nailed on 2257 Violation

SYRACUSE — A noted local author and adventurer was sentenced Tuesday to three years in federal prison for failing to confirm if five females he portrayed in sexually explicit photographs were old enough to pose nude.

U.S. Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby said Ralph G. Martell, 78, of Bouckville, also was sentenced in U.S. District Court to a $25,000 fine and will be required to undergo three years of supervision upon his release.

Martell admitted in January that he produced sexually explicit photographs of females, including five identified as between 13 and 17 years old, between August 2002 and January 2004.

Martell admitted he did not take the required steps to determine the true names and ages of the females he photographed, officials said. He also did not maintain records of the females.

Martell has written several books about a lifetime of adventures that has included rubbing elbows with Ernest Hemingway, traveling the frontier of Brazil and operating one of New York City’s most trendy restaurants. His books include “Fish Tales and Other Stories to Get Hooked On,” “Memories of the Mato Grosso,” “When Does the Fun Start?” and “Never Stop Dancing.”

Federal law requires photographers to verify their models’ ages through identification documents and keep records.

The girls responded to an ad Martell placed in a newspaper, authorities said, and lied to Martell about their ages, but at least one looked so young that her pictures drew the attention of a film processing company in Maryland.

That company reported Martell’s activities to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in January 2004, authorities said.

Additional images were later found at Martell’s home.

From the DOJ office: United States Attorney Glenn T. Suddaby announced that RALPH G. MARTELL, age 77, of 3300 Westland Drive, Bouckville, entered a plea of guilty today to a felony charge of failing to maintain required records relating to persons portrayed in sexually explicit visual depictions produced by MARTELL.

In connection with his plea, MARTELL admitted that, between August, 2002 and January, 2004, he produced sexually explicit photographs of women and girls, including five identified underage females who ranged in age from 13 to 17 years old at the time the photographs were taken. Federal law requires persons who produce such material to ascertain, by examination of identification documents, the true names and dates of birth of every person portrayed in the visual depictions, and to create and maintain individually identifiable records of each performer. MARTELL admitted that he did not take the required steps to determine the true names and ages of the persons of whom he took sexually explicit photographs, and that he also did not maintain the records required by law.

As a part of an agreed-upon sentence, subject to approval by the Court, MARTELL faces a minimum of 3, and a maximum of 5 years incarceration as a result of today’s plea. He also faces a maximum fine of up to $250,000. MARTELL is scheduled to be sentenced by Hon. Norman A. Mordue in United States District Court in Syracuse on March 29, 2005.

MARTELL’S activities were first reported to the United States Postal Inspection Service in January of this year after he mailed sexually explicit images of an underage model to a photo lab for processing. Additional images were recovered in February of this year pursuant to a search warrant executed at MARTELL’S home and other buildings located on his property.

MARTELL’S arrest was the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, and New York State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa Fletcher

 

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