The owner of an Abingdon adult bookstore must conceal the covers of sexually explicit magazines as part of his sentence for illegally displaying obscene materials.
Harford Circuit Judge Maurice W. Baldwin also ordered Larry C. Hicks to pay a $25 fine on each of the 78 counts he was convicted of during a jury trial last month.
Hicks, owner of U.S. Books in the 3000 block of Pulaski Highway, must pay the $1,950 fine and $685 in court costs during a two-year probation period ordered by the judge during sentencing Monday.
The case marks the first time a county jury has set standards to determine what kinds of sexually explicit materials are obscene.
But Baldwin questioned the effectiveness of the prosecution and conviction, noting that sexually explicit magazines similar to those Hicks was charged with displaying are still available in the county.
"This prosecution has done little to deter the selling of the type of materials that the jury found obscene," Baldwin said.
Hicks faced a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $1,000 fine on each of the 78 counts of illegally displaying obscene materials.
The prosecution sought a sentence of 18 months in jail and a $75,000 fine for Hicks.
Assistant State's Attorney M. Teresa Garland noted that Hicks failed to comply with a letter from the Harford sheriff outlining the state's display laws for sexually explicit magazines before U.S. Books and three other adult book stores in the county were raided by police in June 1989.
"The defendant has blatantly disregarded the laws," Garland argued.
Hicks told the judge before he was sentenced that he did not intend to break any laws.
"It was never my intent to bedisruptive," the 44-year-old Edgewood resident said.
During Hicks' trial last month, defense attorney William Seekford of Towson argued that Hicks did not have an active role in the operations of U.S. Books.
But the prosecution presented the jury with bank records, articles of incorporation and applications for county business licenses that list Hicks as the owner of 3011 Corp., which operates U.S. Books.
In a separate case, L & R News Inc., another company prosecutorssay is operated by Hicks, is awaiting trial on 100 counts of display-law violations. L & R News owns Edgewood Books, on Edgewood Road.
Both 3011 Corp. and L & R News Inc. were among four companies charged with displaying sexually obscene materials after the sheriff's office raided adult bookstores in June 1989.
Hicks was the only individual charged after the raid; the other defendants were companies.
Wide Horizons Unlimited, which owns a Fallston adult book store, pleaded guilty to 49 counts of displaying sexually explicit materials andone count of distributing obscene materials in May 1990.
Another company, Chesapeake B & M Inc., which owns Highway Craft, Gift and Book Store in Aberdeen, was found guilty of 100 counts of displaying explicit magazines and one count of distributing obscene materials in Harford District Court in September 1990.