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Eddie Wedelstedt Begins 13-Month Prison SentenceBy: Mark Kernes (Courtesy of AVN.com)
DENVER – Veteran adult industry entrepreneur Eddie Wedelstedt, owner of Goalie Entertainment and its chain of retail outlets, will today begin serving the 13-month sentence handed down by federal district Judge Ed Kinkeade in early March.
In November, 2005, Wedelstedt had pled guilty to one count of interstate transportation of obscene materials for sale or distribution and one count of conspiracy in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors that saw more than a dozen other charges against him dismissed, as well as all charges against most of his co-defendants, including Wedelstedt’s wife and several Goalie regional managers and retailers.
Wedelstedt discussed the case before an audience of friends, employees and attorneys assembled in Denver on May 13 for, among other things, a "Casino Night" to benefit Wedelstedt’s Eddie’s Kids Foundation, and later, a discussion about the ongoing fight to keep adult entertainment legal in America.
"I’ll never forget that day when we were sitting in a room," Wedelstedt reminisced about that November day. "You had my wife sitting there; she’s being arraigned. You got three innocent men, that all they did was, when the computer [controlling several adult viewing booths] said, ‘Change Channel 4,’ they did that. We had a packed house that day. You got your lawyers sitting next to you, and all of a sudden, this guy comes across the room; he hands a paper to Hank [Asbill, the lead attorney on the case]. Hank says, ‘Look at this.’ I said, ‘What is it?’ He says, ‘That’s your rap sheet.’ It’s everything from Day 1 till now; all the 30 or 25 times I’ve been arrested, the trials, the whole works, and it goes on and on and on here. Your victories in the Supreme Court, your losses – never found guilty, by the way. I said to him, I said, ‘I see something different there, Hank, than you do.’ He says, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘Show me one goddamn co-defendant. They had balls in those days. Now they bring your wife in; in Coil’s case, his kids in. They bring innocent people in. They haven’t got the guts to stand up to you anymore, or the brains. So they use innocent people.’"
Wedelstedt told the assemblage about the tactics the government investigators had used in trying to make a case against him, including questioning over 200 of his acquaintances and employees, and using helicopters to observe the comings and goings of himself, his family and guests at his house in Malibu.
"I think the thing that hurt me the most," Wedelstedt said, "was that, for two years, the federal government had gag orders on the banks that we deal with, and was forcing them to investigate all the lawyers that worked with us, because they [the government] were convinced that these lawyers were taking millions of dollars out of the country so I could get all this money in South America and all these places. And the sad part was, they [the attorneys] had to go through checkpoints when they travel. They were treated like criminals … It was really unfortunate that that happened."
The case also preoccupied Wedelstedt to the point where he said he was unable to enjoy everyday activities.
"Instead of going to a movie, instead of going someplace with your kids — I started making love sometimes — instead of doing the things you want to do, your mind is focused on what you can do to protect your people, to protect your company, so sometimes your mind is not where you really would like to have it," he explained. "I don’t go to hockey games anymore; I haven’t been to basketball games, because when I get there, I’m not thinking about the game no more."
But even the impending incarceration didn’t deter Wedelstedt from focusing on his constant fight to keep adult entertainment legal.
"I mean, when you stop to think of all the horror stories in America today – think about it, now – in South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, there’s about three or four or five states, it is illegal to buy a vibrator!" he shouted in mock astonishment. "You can go to prison for buying a vibrator or a dildo. That’s what this country is starting to come to, and it’s very, very sad. And if it wasn’t for Free Speech, the ACLU, the group that we belong to, that can fight back with all these wonderful people that are trying to get us to fight this – no one else is gonna fight these laws. It’s just horrible."
"What we’ve got to do now is, we’ve got to jump on top of things," he continued. "I’m really upset that only a few people are angry about the billboard law. If the goddamn billboard law doesn’t affect all of us in this country, I don’t know what does. What they’re doing is passing laws now, and they’re saying that if you’re any kind of an adult company, whether it be a nightclub, whether it be a novelty company, now you don’t have the right, in those states, to advertise on that billboard. There are how many states already passed this, and we’ve been sitting on our ass. This is something all of us can join together on. We’ve got to jump in and we’ve got to stop these laws that are being passed. We can’t wait for the ACLU."
So saying, Wedelstedt urged all present to support Free Speech Coalition and its lawsuits against the recordkeeping and labeling law, and Utah’s Child Protection Registry, and its plans to lobby for the industry in Washington, D.C.
But, Wedelstedt assured the gathering, being sent to prison was something he would survive.
"I’ve done a lot of time in a lot of places," he said. "I’ve done camp time, I’ve done prison time, and a couple, two, three days, unfortunately, I did some big house time… All I can say is this: One year’s not going to kill me. I can do one year and it’s not gonna bother me. I think things are gonna be okay."
Originally, Wedelstedt was to serve his sentence at the Longwood Federal Prison Camp, located not far from his home in Denver. However, due to reported prison overcrowding, the Bureau of Prisons assigned him to a minimum security facility in southern Colorado, more than two hours from his residence.
Although sentenced to 13 months, with good behavior, Wedelstedt should be eligible for early release after slightly more than 11 months.