Only six weeks into 2005 and already we've got ourselves a real contender for 'story of the year'.
The Richard Desmond/Mafia/Porn/Internet scam story really does have all the elements.
Of course, this whole thing reared its head a good five years ago. But it's only now, with the court case of "mafia emissary" Richard Martino, that all the details are coming to light.
And what details! This Richard 'Ricci' Martino is part of the Gambino gang (formerly headed by John Gotti) and was in charge of a telephone and internet sex scam whereby free 'samples' of phone lines and internet sites were offered only if credit card details were produced as 'proof of age'. You can guess what happened next.
So where does Dirty Desmond fit into all of this? Well his 'adult titles' (including Asian Babes, Big Ones, Eros, Forum, Horny Housewives, Only 18 and Mothers-in-Law) agreed to carry adverts for the dodgy phone lines. But something went wrong and a meeting between the two parties "got ugly" to the point where Desmond called Ricci "stupid and common" and the mafia basically told Des' "never to attempt to do business in the US again".
So, obviously, a fortnight later Desmond sends his deputy to New York (lucky deputy!). Ricci finds out and decides to "send a car" to pick up the guy in order to deliver "a message" to Desmond (honestly, we're not making this up, it's like the Sopranos only with porn).
According to an FBI agent who'd been following the gang for six years what happened next was pretty ugly:
"The following morning he was met by a man who claimed to be the driver. After two blocks, however, the car stopped. Two men allegedly got in the car, one with a gun. He claims they pistol-whipped him, slashed his face with a knife and applied a Taser-style stun gun to his testicles."
Desmond, meanwhile, describes this story as "pure fantasy", and has denied meeting Ricci or ever "knowingly had dealings with him".
Ricci and five others involved in the scam (which netted more than $230m) are facing a variety of charges including fraud, extortion and money laundering.