Dr. John's Owner gets 30 Days in Jail

Dr. John's Owner gets 30 Days in Jail

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Midwesterner who owns a string of adult novelty stores from Missouri to Utah will spend 30 days in jail for selling an obscene video to a minor, who was a police decoy.

John Haltom, 36, of Lincoln, Neb., was sentenced Monday to up to five years in prison and fined $5,000, but District Judge Dennis Fuchs suspended all but 30 days of the sentence and $2,000 of the fine.

"As long as you choose to do the type of business you do in our community, you must abide by the laws," Fuchs told Haltom, who appeared in court wearing dark slacks, a pink cotton dress shirt and a purple-striped tie.

Haltom was ordered to report to jail Tuesday morning. He also was placed on three years probation. Fuchs warned Haltom not violate his probation.

"I just give you fair warning, I will not hesitate to send you to prison," Fuchs said.

A jury last March convicted Haltom of a felony charge of dealing in material harmful to a minor at Doctor John's Lingerie and Novelty Boutique in Midvale, a Salt Lake City suburb.

He was accused of selling an adult video to the 17-year-old daughter of then-Midvale Assistant Police Chief Dan Pearson, who was acting as a decoy, on Aug. 4, 2000. Jurors watched 16 1/2 minutes of the hour-long video during the trial.

The sale to a minor is "something that will not ever be repeated," his lawyer, Andrew McCullough, promised Fuchs on Monday.

McCullough thought he had an agreement with county prosecutors for no jail time and lobbied the judge to no avail. "I don't believe jail will be helpful for him," McCullough said.

McCullough said he planned to appeal the conviction on several points, including entrapment, and will try to get Haltom's sentence suspended until the appeal is heard.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Haltom said he was surprised by the sentence.

"I thought I was going to get 60 days," he said.

Fuchs delayed sentencing 10 months from the conviction so that Haltom could be in the courtroom.

The much-litagated Haltom could not travel to Utah until he finished serving a jail term on obscenity charges in Omaha, Neb., after police purchased videos at his store there. He left jail Dec. 4.

"When you go north of Mexico and south of Canada, there are only two places where adult expression is repressed, and that is Omaha, Neb., and Salt Lake City, Utah," Haltom had previously told The Associated Press. "I will fight to the end, to my death, to liberate these two cities."

He remained defiant outside the courtroom Monday.

"If we stop fighting for our rights, what's next? Are they going to take away your religious rights?" he said. "What you do in your own bedroom is your own business."

The legal troubles for Haltom will not end once he serves his 30-day jail sentence.

Haltom faces charges of distributing obscene videos at his store in Scottsbluff, Neb., one of 10 he owns in five states.

Last month, Doctor John's Inc. also filed a lawsuit against Sioux City, Iowa, claiming that city's zoning regulations were designed to keep his Doctor John's boutique from opening there.

In May, the Utah Supreme Court rejected his challenge of the state's sexually oriented licensing law. The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 rejected without comment Haltom's appeal.

Haltom has stores in Midvale and Roy, Utah; four in Nebraska; two in Missouri; and one each in Iowa and Colorado.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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