A 35-year-old Navy veteran who lives on a lavish $325,000 estate on Belmont Bay in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County is the largest individual operator and owner of Washington area pornography shops.
Dennis E. Pryba came to the business through former pornography kingpin Herman Lynn Womack, who had been banished by a judge's order from participating in it. Pryba worked for Womack during the 1960s and ultimately inherited his mentor's prominent position in the field.
On his own but often hiding behind straw names, according to former employees and law enforcement authorities. Pryba has had eight (now seven) stores employing about 30 people. He now own just one District of Columbia shop, at 3255 M St. NW in Georgetown.
Pryba's house, situated on 7.7 secluded acres, is owned in the name of his wife, Barbara, as was their former home in the expensive Tantallon section of Oxon Hill. Monthly mortgage payments on the Virginia property are $1,962.84, according to court records. Pryba drives a Cadillac and a Lincoln.
Pryba's business relationship with Bon-Jay, a major Baltimore pornography distribution house, has resulted in two lawsuits filed by the firm against him and the apparent shift of one downtown Washington store at 1405 H St. NW from Pryba to Bon-Jay.
Bon-Jay and Pryba opened the store together in a partnership "conceived in sin," according to Stanley Dietz, a lawyer who once represented the firm and now represents Pryba.
According to Dietz, Bon-Jay provided the shop's 16 peepshow machines, whose revenues were to be shared. But Pryba felt Bon-Jay was not providing an accurate accounting, removed Bon-Jay's machines and installed his own, Dietz said. Occupancy permits now list names associated with Bon-Jay as operating the store.
Another WOmack protege, Jimmy Ingram, came to Washington from Oklahoma. His name now is associated with four area bookstores - two on 14th ST. NW, one at 1746 M St. NW and one near Ft. Belvoir - and several in the Tidewater area where Wormack makes his home. Ingram pleaded guilty last year to charges of selling obscene movies here and was fined $500.
Beyond the immediate Womack orbit are other figures on the Washington pornography scene such as Herbert C. Cole, associated with the Adam & Eve Book Store at 815 14th St. NW as well as with the Casino Royal Adult Theater and Adam & Eve Massage Parlor directly across 14th Street. The parlor, at the foot of the steps leading to the movie house, advertises, "After the movie, come and join the ladies of Adam & Eve."
Cole, a Prince Goerge's County bail bondsman, and his wife Mary, an officer in the movie theater corporation, own extensive property in the county where Mary Cole also buys and sells real estate. Cole also buys and sells real estate. Cole was convicted last August of selling child pornography and fined $3,000. The same month, as a bail bondsman, he signed Pryba's $1,000 surety bond in a Prince George's obscenity case.
A close friend of both Pryba and Cole, according to former employees of each, is Walter F. (Buster) Riggin. Riggin, 51, owns a bookstore and arcade in the Adams-Morgan area. His younger brother, Richard, owns a separate downtown bookshop.
Riggin drives a black and gold Cadillac and lives in Washington's. He has been in and out of jails and prisons since 1940. In the 1960s and 1970s, he has been convicted on gambling and housebreaking charges.
Riggin currently faces trial for selling child pornography and for having unlicensed amusement machines in his shop. A 1974 conviction for selling material about bestiality netted him three months of probation. In court papers last year, Riggin alleged he had become a police target for refusing to become an informer.
Riggin and Pryba declined to be interviewed for this series. Cole did not return a reporter's calls to his city book shop. Ingram would not discuss his bookstore business for the record.