Nudist Pornographer Gets 12 Years
Times Publishing Company
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
September 10, 1992
Section: Pasco Times; Pg. 2
Byline: Bryanna Latoof
Accused Racketeer, Pornographer Called 'Dreamer'
Dennis Sobin sat quietly Wednesday at the defense table as he listened to two descriptions of himself: that of a dreamer and that of a pornographer whose work sometimes involved children.
Assistant State Attorney Robert Attridge told jurors during opening statements in Sobin's racketeering and pornography trial that Sobin was seen making lewd videotapes of two young children at a Land O'Lakes nudist campground.
After watching Sobin make the tape in February 1991, campers at the Riverboat Club on Carriker Road ''were so offended by what they saw . . . they decided to confront Dennis Sobin," Attridge told jurors. ''They themselves are naturalists," he said. "They're the ones that called the Sheriff's Office.''
Sheriff's officials arrived at the campground and eventually got a search warrant to examine Sobin's van which contained sexually explicit materials.
Besides a video depicting the children - a 6-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy - authorities seized other videos, including two titled Sex Lives in Las Vegas and Sex Lives in Long Island, Attridge said.
Attridge also outlined various business ventures, including a telephone-sex enterprise in Washington, D. C., and he urged jurors to be mindful of Sobin's ''ever-changing story" about what he was doing with the children and about his work in general.
Attridge also discussed a sexually explicit publication that circulated in the area not long after Sobin's arrest called Inside Pasco County that labeled a public official as the county's "Number One Swinger." Authorities immediately suspected Sobin as the source of the publication, but he has denied any involvement.
Attridge said testimony also will indicate Sobin made possibly more than $ 2-million on his various business ventures, despite his claim that he went bankrupt several years ago.
After Attridge spoke, Sobin's court-appointed attorney, Ric Howard, said the state is wrong in depicting Sobin as "some sort of International cartel of pornography. He's not." Howard said the alleged racketeering crimes the state is trying to prosecute occurred in other states and therefore don't belong in a Pasco courtroom.
He also said the state attorney's and sheriff's offices are forcing charges that allege ''all kinds of nefarious conduct in retaliation for the Inside Pasco County publication. The bottom line, Howard said, is that Sobin is nothing more than a crusader for personal rights.
"He's a dreamer, a political activist,'' Howard said. "He doesn't do anything but dream about his political future. He talks about being a strident believer in the First Amendment."
He defended Sobin's videotapes of the children, saying, ''There's nothing illegal about photographing children in a state of undress."
Times Publishing Company
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
September 19, 1992
Pasco Times; Pg. 1
Byline: Bryanna Latoof
Man Guilty Of Child Pornography
Dennis Sobin, pornography purveyor and self-described defender of public rights, was convicted Friday on seven felony counts involving racketeering and child pornography.
After deliberating for eight hours over two days, jurors decided that Sobin is innocent, however, of 23 counts of obscenity involving various counts of pornography, two of which were felony offenses.
Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb will sentence Sobin at 4 p.m. on Oct. 19. Although he denied Sobin's request to be allowed to remain free until sentencing, Cobb said he will have a hearing to consider the matter.
Sobin, who was taken into custody immediately after the verdict, was prepared for incarceration, said his lawyer, Ric Howard. "He had steeled himself for that," Howard said. "He has accepted it. He's got an incredibly strong will."
Assistant State Attorney Robert Attridge said he was "very satisfied" with the convictions. He said Sobin faces five to 12 years in prison based on the state's sentencing guidelines. Sobin's conviction was based on his February 1991 arrest after he took nude videotape footage of two children at a Central Pasco nudist campground.
Sobin's former common-law wife and business partner, Eleanor Pohorylo, also charged in the case, was sentenced to 10 years' probation for participating and engaging in racketeering and for conspiracy to engage in racketeering. She also was sentenced to five years' probation, to be served concurrently with the 10-year sentence, for wholesale promotion of obscene matter. Pohorylo received probation in exchange for her testimony during the trial, which started Sept. 9.
During Thursday's closing statements, which lasted more than three hours, Sobin interrupted Attridge twice as the prosecutor described videotapes Sobin made that showed, he said, "very suggestive shots of these children.
''Your honor,'' Sobin said from the defense table. "I'm getting very nauseous about what he's saying. I'm going to throw up." Sobin asked for, and received, a break from the courtroom after objecting to Attridge's comments.
When court resumed, Cobb told Sobin not to interrupt again, and Sobin apologized, adding that he is in pain from what thinks is a cracked rib he sustained while wrestling with one of his children.
Later, Sobin jumped out of his chair and objected to Attridge's description of how the children were videotaped. Cobb again ordered him to restrain himself.
During his closing, Sobin's court-appointed attorney, Howard, told jurors his client did nothing wrong in videotaping the children nude at a Central Pasco nudist campground in February 1991. Campers at the Riverboat Club on Carriker road confronted Sobin after watching him make the videotape, and called authorities to report what they considered offensive behavior. Police eventually seized an assortment of material they deemed pornographic.
Howard said his client did nothing illegal or immoral in making the videotape of the children, saying, "Merely depicting these children's genitals is not lewd." Howard also faulted the prosecution for bringing charges against Sobin involving alleged crimes in other states, telling jurors, "The state has so terribly overcharged this man" in a case he called "one of the biggest in this county's history." He accused the state of placing too much burden on the jurors by expecting them to boil down what he called ''prosecutorial overkill" into an easily resolved matter.
"They haven't made any sense of this stuff, but they're hoping you will,'' Howard said. "It is a lack of evidence that the state wants you to fill in the blanks."
As he did at the start of the trial, Howard said the state brought frivolous charges against Sobin in retaliation for a publication called Inside Pasco County, which labeled a high-ranking public official as the county's "Number One Swinger."
Attridge took a different position. In his closing argument, Attridge said Sobin came to Pasco to videotape children in positions that would sell in the pornography underworld, where Sobin allegedly has made millions of dollars in various illicit enterprises. And while obscenity is not clearly defined in law books, he said, it shouldn't be difficult for the jury to determine Sobin's work that falls within the general framework of what is obscene.
One factor to consider in determining art over obscenity, Attridge said, is the seriousness of the work. In describing the videotapes seized from Sobin, Attridge said: ''You need a bed. You need a table top. The people have sex on that bed, and you film lt. You just put a camera on the table and you don't move it. That's the seriousness of this work, the lowest form of budget you can make.'' The videos, Attridge said, do ''nothing but appeal to your prurient interests.'' "Mr. Sobin should be held accountable for what he has done,'' Attridge said. ''There's more than enough evidence to convict.''
Times Publishing Company
St. Petersburg Times
October 20, 1992/ Tuesday/ City Edition
Distribution: Pasco Times, Tampa Bay and State
Section: Pasco Times; Pg. 1
Byline: Rick Gershman
A purportedly kinder, gentler Dennis Sobin was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday on felony convictions involving racketeering and child pornography.
The term is the maximum Circuit Judge Wayne Cobb could impose under sentencing guidelines. Cobb disregarded the request by Assistant State Attorney Robert Attridge to exceed the guidelines and sentenced Sobin to 12 years on each of the seven charges, all the terms to run concurrently. Sobin's court-appointed lawyer, Ric Howard, said Sobin will appeal the sentence.
The convictions sprang from Sobin's February 1991 arrest after he videotaped his nude children, with close-ups on their genitals, at a Land O'Lakes nudist campground.
He was convicted in September of two felony charges of racketeering relating to his adult-themed video, telephone and publishing services, and of five counts of sexual performance by children.
However, the jury acquitted Sobin on 23 misdemeanor and felony counts of obscenity relating to various pornography charges.
Attridge asked Cobb to exceed sentencing guidelines and suggested Sobin could be sentenced to 135 years in prison.
Sobin acted far differently than he had in previous appearances. Formerly militant and argumentative, the self-described defender of First Amendment rights was gaunt and bearded from his incarceration and acted remorsefully.
"I made a mistake and I'm here to accept responsibility," he told Cobb. "I feel that the nature of these charges allowed for mistakes in (my) judgment."
Sobin later claimed he had saved money for taxpayers because his 23 acquittals more clearly defined the nature of sexually explicit materials in Pasco County.
"Now the sheriff won't waste time reviewing adult sexual videos,'' he said. "No longer will the state have to waste valuable time and resources on cases of an adult sexual nature."
Attridge disputed these claims. "Although he's made millions, he has not paid one penny of taxes," Attridge said. "He has not paid his bills." "(Sobin's) own wife testified that to get rent from him she had to have sex on film, and then he sold it in a bookstore," Attridge added. "Now he has emotionally damaged two young children. I don't think 12 years is enough for this kind of activity."
There will be a hearing later to determine what fines the court will assess Sobin. Howard said the state plans to ask for $1-million.
Sobin had asked Cobb to release him to his family, though his former common-law wife, Eleanor Pohorylo, has since remarried. He told the judge he has disavowed his past and will write children's books.
"I'd like to go home, your honor," Sobin said. "I know my children miss me very much. "I want you to know that I will be changing my lifestyle. My former rabble-rousing activities - call them political or racketeering, they will no longer be the case. I've embarked on a process of writing a series of children's books.
"Mr. Howard has a letter from a publisher who is interested."
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