Felony pandering charges against a Woodland Hills man were dropped Friday in exchange for his testimony against a man also accused of hiring people to perform sex acts in videotapes.
Under the agreement, Charles Brickman, 40, pleaded no contest in San Fernando Superior Court to one felony count of conspiracy to commit pandering.
Prosecutors dropped 16 felony counts of pandering against him, Deputy Dist. Atty. Kenneth A. Loveman said.
Brickman, a producer of the films, agreed to testify against Thomas Ingalls, 22, of Van Nuys, another producer of pornographic films, Loveman said.
Brickman and Ingalls were arrested by Los Angeles police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies June 18, 1986, in a Sand Canyon home where explicit films were being made, Loveman said.
Police confiscated videotapes showing men and women performing sex acts and prosecuted the film makers under the state’s pandering law.
State and county authorities have launched drives to suppress the sex-film industry by using pandering laws, usually reserved for pimps, which makes it illegal to hire a person to engage in a sex act.
Authorities say that performers are committing acts of prostitution, and it is irrelevant whether their actions are filmed.
Brickman and his Beverly Hills attorney, John Westin, agreed to the settlement after months of discussions, Loveman said, because the single conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of eight years and no mandatory jail or prison time.
Could Have Faced 13 Years
If convicted of all 16 pandering counts, however, Brickman could have received a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison, Loveman said.
The state’s pandering statute carries a mandatory prison term of at least three years.
As part of the agreement, Brickman also agreed to testify against Julio C. Gonzales, 27, who is also known under the stage name of Tony Montana.
Brickman will testify that Gonzales perjured himself at Brickman’s preliminary hearing by denying under oath that he received monetary compensation for sex acts he performed at the Sand Canyon residence.
Brickman’s sentencing was scheduled for May 6.
Ingalls’ trial on 16 counts of felony pandering, each count representing one person hired to have sex on camera, is set for Wednesday, and Gonzales’ preliminary hearing is set for Friday.
Another man arrested with Brickman and Ingalls, Edward Ginsberg, pleaded guilty last spring to one count of conspiracy to corrupt public morals in a plea bargain agreement.
Ginsberg, 28, an associate film producer, agreed to testify against Brickman and Ingalls, in exchange for which prosecutors dropped 16 counts of pandering.
The key to the plea bargain was the lack of a mandatory sentence.
However, the question of mandatory jail sentences for pandering may be decided in the California Supreme Court.
The high court is hearing a case in which an appellate court affirmed a lower court’s refusal to impose the mandatory sentence.
The case involves Harold Freeman, a film maker convicted of pandering by a Van Nuys Superior Court jury in 1985.
A trial judge in Van Nuys sentenced Freeman instead to 90 days in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Judge James A. Albract, at the time of sentencing, said, “I find his business to be deplorable, but that’s irrelevant. It wasn’t the intent of the Legislature to put Mr. Freeman in prison” when the pandering law was passed.