Monday, 23 July, 2018

Backpage chief pleads guilty, will cooperate in prostitution case

Backpage.com, CEO Plead Guilty in Sex-Trafficking Crackdown Backpage.com CEO Pleads Guilty, Will Cooperate With Federal Investigators
Faye Gross | 14 April, 2018, 11:34

The chief executive of Backpage.com, the gender advertisements website not too long ago captured from the federal authorities, pleaded guilty on Thursday to prices from California and Texas, and officials urged plea agreements made last week in federal court in Arizona.

The terms of the agreement also require Ferrer to assist U.S. authorities to shut the operation down, as well as forfeit to the government corporate assets and other property owned or controlled by Backpage-linked entities.

Almost a week ago, the classified advertising website Backpage.com was seized by the Department of Justice on accounts of facilitating prostitution and money laundering from its forum.

The chief executive order, Carl Ferrer, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in California, and to money laundering in Texas, " the states' attorneys-general declared.

"I have always been aware that the great majority of these advertisements are, in fact, advertisements for prostitution services (which are not protected by the First Amendment and which are illegal in 49 states and in much of Nevada)".

A co-founder of Backpage.com pleaded guilty in federal court in Arizona on Thursday to charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering, the U.S. Justice Department said.

In 2015, the state filed charges against the company for pimping and money laundering, but the case was thrown out the following year.

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As part of the federal plea deal, Ferrer admitted that he had "long been aware that the great majority of Backpage's "escort" and "adult" advertisements are, in fact, advertisements for prostitution services, which are not protected by the First Amendment and which are illegal in 49 states and in much of Nevada", the Justice Department said in a statement. "But this illegality stops right now".

"Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, and it is happening in our own backyard", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement announcing the plea deal.

"This is such an important step forward for the many people who've been combating human trafficking".

Five employees of the site also were arrested and pleaded not guilty, but Lacey and Larkin are the only ones in jail.

President Donald Trump this week signed a law making it easier to prosecute website operators in the future.

Calling it the "largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world", Paxton said Backpage facilitated the sex trafficking of innocent women and children at 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages.

Texas state agents raided the Dallas headquarters of Backpage and arrested Ferrer on a California warrant after he arrived at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport on a flight from Amsterdam on October 6, 2016.

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