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The Government’s Version of the Rob Black Guilty Plea and the Events that led Up to It

PITTSBURGH — A California-based company that produced and distributed obscene materials and its owners pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh today to violating federal obscenity laws, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced.

Extreme Associates, Inc., of North Hollywood, Calif,; Robert Zicari, a/k/a Rob Black, 35; and Janet Romano, a/k/a/ Lizzie Borden, 32; both of Northridge, Calif., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster to a felony charge of conspiracy to distribute obscene material through the mails and over the Internet. Through their plea agreements, the company and its owners acknowledged responsibility for the conduct charged in Counts 2 through 10 of the indictment – distributing three videos through the mail and six individual video clips over the Internet to western Pennsylvania. In addition, they forfeited to the United States the Internet domain name,, which was used to commit the violations. The company is now defunct.

“Extreme Associates maintained a website through which it engaged in the business of producing, selling and distributing obscene videotapes, DVDs, and computer files in interstate commerce. This case affirms that no matter who you are, or where you are, certain abhorrent behavior simply violates our community’s standards,” stated Ms. Buchanan.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Zicari and Romano, through Extreme Associates, Inc., mailed obscene films entitled “Force Entry – Director’s Cut,” “Cocktails 2 – Directors Cut,” and “Extreme Teen #24” to the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Forced Entry” portrays the rape and murder of three women, who are slapped, hit, spit upon and generally abused and degraded throughout graphic portrayals of forced sex acts.

In “Cocktails #2,” women engage in sex acts with multiple partners while a bowl, placed in front of the women, is filled with various bodily liquids. At the conclusion of each vignette, the women drink the concoction. Finally, “Extreme Teen #24” portrays abusive sexual acts between adult males and females dressed to look like minor children. In addition, the defendants transmitted six obscene video clips over the Internet through their website. The six video clips are entitled “valeriejospit,” “jewel,” “pz_summerbreeze,” “dp.gangbang.7,” “miacum,” and “analasspirations1.” The clips range in length from 37 seconds to two minutes, 54 seconds.

Ms. Buchanan said that in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in Miller v. California that materials are obscene if they satisfy a three part test:

(1) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the material taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; and

(2) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that the material depicts sexual conduct in patently offensive manner; and

(3) A reasonable person, viewing the material as a whole, finds that the material lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

The plea concedes that the charged materials are obscene under the Miller test, and that the distribution of these materials is illegal.

Extreme Associates, Inc. was the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary entitled “American Porn,” which aired nationwide on Feb. 7, 2002. That program showed non-sexually explicit portions of the filming of the video, “Forced Entry,” which depicts the brutal rapes and murders of several women.

As part of the investigation, undercover U.S. Postal Inspectors visited the Extreme Associates website and purchased certain obscene videotapes, which Extreme Associates delivered through U.S. mails. Inspectors also downloaded several obscene video clips.

In August 2003, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh returned a ten-count indictment against Extreme Associates for violating the federal obscenity statutes. In January 2005, Judge Lancaster dismissed the indictment on the basis that the federal obscenity statutes were unconstitutional. The government appealed and Ms. Buchanan argued the case in October 2005 before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Dec. 8, 2005, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the District Court, denied the defendant’s constitutional challenge and held that the federal statutes regulating the distribution of obscenity do not violate any constitutional right to privacy. The case was then remanded back to the District Court. The Court of Appeals recognized that the U.S. Supreme Court had consistently upheld the obscenity statutes in the face of constitutional challenges.

Judge Lancaster scheduled sentencing for July 1, 2009, at 9:30 a.m. The law provides that Zicari and Romano face a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Extreme Associates, Inc. faces a maximum total sentence of probation of five years and a fine of $500,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen R. Kaufman and Christine A. Sanner, and Damon A. King, a Trial Attorney with the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, are prosecuting this case for the government. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with investigative assistance from the Pornography Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Organized Crime and Vice Division and from CEOS’ High Technology Investigative Unit, conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Extreme Associates, Robert Zicari and Janet Romano.


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