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Rented Home to Adult Movie Crew : Captain Sticky Pasted by Vice Squad

Times Staff Writer

About 6 p.m. last Friday, Captain Sticky, a.k.a. Richard Pesta, had plans to go to a motel to see his girlfriend. He also had plans to leave his three-story Mission Hills home to a Hollywood film producer and crew who were wrapping up two days of filming sex scenes there involving six actresses and four actors.

Captain Sticky, the self-proclaimed “fighter of evil” who has helped lead investigations for 14 years into substandard nursing homes, insurance frauds and other consumer rip-offs, recalled Tuesday that he was taking a shower when the bathroom door opened and in came a stranger carrying a police badge.

According to Sticky, the stranger told him: “We have a search warrant. Would you please step out?”

“I thought someone was pulling a joke,” he said.

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It was no joke.

The stranger turned out to be a San Diego police vice officer, one of 10 who raided Captain Sticky’s home, arrested the film’s producer, Ronald Jeromy Hyatt, on suspicion of pandering and seized a videotape. Sticky, who wears a costume like Superman’s complete with cape, was about to be accused of operating a disorderly house.

Captain Sticky said he made sure no illegal narcotics or any other illegal material were brought into the house but that he was was willing to allow the film crew to shoot sex scenes in his first-floor film studio for $500 a day.

Sticky said his dilemma began last Wednesday when a man who identified himself as Ronald Jeromy called him at 12:30 a.m. and asked if he could use the film studio on the home’s 1,000-square-foot first floor to film adult material. Sticky, who frequently rents the studio to film companies, gave the man permission to use it for two days starting Thursday.

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What Captain Sticky was not aware of was the 1982 “anti-pimp” law, which states that anyone who procures a person to engage in sex is guilty of pimping and pandering.

“I had no knowledge about that at all. I asked about it, and they told me there was nothing illegal whatsoever,” Sticky said, adding that he contacted his lawyer to make sure the activity would be within the law. “If I knew in any way that there were illegal activities going on that were codified, I wouldn’t have permitted it.”

Instead, he said, he welcomed the whole crew into his studio home. But the group’s attitude did not sit well with him. He said he considered removing them from his home but decided not to because of contractual obligations.

“Their whole basic demeanor was messy,” Sticky, 41, said.

“I knew there was going to be adult material,” Sticky said in an interview at his home between phone calls from acquaintances who were kidding him or showing their support for the former fiber glass manufacturer. “I have no problem with adult material. But I stayed on the premises to make sure there were no drugs or that they weren’t a nuisance to my neighbors.”

But Los Angeles Police Department vice squad officers, who have been using the law to fight adult-movie producers, contacted the San Diego Police Department and informed them that they were pursuing Hyatt, 33, for alleged pandering activities and that he was planning to produce hard-core sex films in San Diego. Police traced him to Captain Sticky’s home and raided it.

“The only problem we have is the direct pressure from the Los Angeles vice squad, and that they (pornographic film companies) were moving elsewhere and testing the waters in San Diego,” San Diego Police Detective Norm Hardman said.

Captain Sticky, who appeared relaxed, said, “I’m obviously embarrassed. I work with the legal community pretty closely, and my personal reaction was that it was a bad call on my part as a businessman.”

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