The president of Consumers Marketing Group pleaded guilty to mail-pornography charges Tuesday, but a federal judge says he hasn't decided whether to accept an overall plea agreement reached in the multistate prosecution.
Avram C. Freedberg, who is also the owner of the Stamford, Conn., company, entered the plea, while a lawyer for the company entered a separate plea on its behalf in order to comply with a technicality in the law.But U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene said he is still considering whether to accept an overall settlement in multistate prosecutions of the company.
Earlier, in a separate but related case, Greene rejected a plea agreement to settle prosecutions pending in three states. The agreement held that in Utah alone, 18 criminal charges would be dismissed against Freedberg and 17 would be dismissed against Consumers. Also, Consumers would surrender its inventory of explicit material and pay a fine not greater than $600,000 altogether.
On Tuesday, Greene accepted a guilty plea on behalf of the corporation, even though the plea agreement in the Utah case endorses the overall agreement. The overall agreement remains essentially unchanged, and Greene is mulling it over.
Freedberg said he placed $500,000 - the potential maximum fine that could be imposed on the company for the Utah charge - in an escrow account maintained by one of his lawyers.
Of the overall agreement, he noted that the government says it will be bound by the $600,000 limitation as the total for the fines in three states. He said the ceiling is fixed at that level and "it's not a matter of recommending" it to the courts.
The government will recommend that Consumers' fine in Utah be $400,000, but that is not binding on the court. The fine could be less or up to the $500,000 maximum.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard N.W. Lambert read a description of the graphic sexually explicit advertising material for magazines and videos, a pamphlet that Consumers sent a West Valley man.
It arrived on June 2, 1987. The charge is that it contains "unsolicited, unmailable obscene" material.
On the witness stand, Freedberg acknowledged that under the community standards in effect in West Valley City, "these items are obscene."
The mailer was sent to 250,000 to 300,000 addresses across the country, he said, with Utah destinations accounting for about three-quarters of one percent of them.
"Most of the people that we mailed to were previous buyers," he said. But some of the addresses came from lists provided by other companies that were involved in direct mailings. He did not say what kind of material was sent by these other companies.
Greene set sentencing for 9 a.m. on May 26, but said it could be sooner.