WASHINGTON – Mantra Films, Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif. company operating as Girls Gone Wild, was sentenced today to pay $1.6 million in criminal fines for failing to create and maintain age and identity records for films it produced, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division, and U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller for the Northern District of Florida announced today.
The sentence was imposed today by U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak at the federal court in Panama City, Fla.
Mantra pleaded guilty on Sept. 12, 2006 to three counts of failing to keep the required records and seven labeling violations in connection with Mantra’s production of Girls Gone Wild films containing depictions of sexually explicit conduct. Each count refers to a different film produced or distributed by Mantra. Mantra admitted that it failed to create and maintain age and identity documents for performers in sexually explicit films produced and distributed by Girls Gone Wild and failed to label their DVDs and videotapes, as required by federal law.
Joseph Francis, founder and CEO of both Mantra Films and MRA Holdings, LLC, pleaded guilty to similar offenses in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 22, 2007. MRA also entered into an agreement that defers prosecution of criminal charges against the company for three years, if MRA abides by an agreement with the government. The “package agreement” with Mantra, MRA and Francis includes a public acknowledgment of criminal wrongdoing, a pledge of cooperation with the government in future investigations, full compliance with the record keeping laws, and payment of a total of $2.1 million in fines and restitution.
The charges in this case are the first to be filed under a law passed by Congress to prevent the sexual exploitation of children. The law protects against the use of minors in the production of pornography by requiring producers to create and maintain age and identity records for every performer in sexually explicit movies and other media. Producers and distributors must then label their products with the name of the custodian of the records and their location.
Girls Gone Wild has admitted to hiring performers, and producing and distributing sexually explicit video materials during 2002 and part of 2003 while systematically violating the record keeping and labeling laws. The companies also admitted that in at least two instances in 2002 in Panama City they filmed minors in sexually explicit scenes that were included in two commercially released DVDs.
The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Sheila Phillips of the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force of the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dixie Morrow of the Northern District of Florida. The Justice Department’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force was formed to focus on the prosecution of adult obscenity nationwide. The Task Force is directed by Brent D. Ward. Investigation of the cases was conducted by Special Agent Denise Conrad of the Adult Obscenity Squad of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is based in Washington, D.C.