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Backpage.com Seized, 93-Count Federal Indictment Levied Against Prostitution Website

Backpage.com Seized, 93-Count Federal Indictment Levied Against Prostitution Website

In a statement Thursday, the office said Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer also had pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Also Thursday, prosecutors in Texas and California said CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to money laundering. The U.S. Justice Department also seized and shut down the website used to prominently advertise escorts and massages, among other services and some goods for sale.

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Government officials touted the indictment and seizure of the popular classified ads website as a major step in the fight against sex trafficking.

"Backpage has earned hundreds of millions of dollars from facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking, placing profits over the well-being and safety of the many thousands of women and children who were victimized by its practices", said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. unusual.

"This website will no longer serve as a platform for human traffickers to thrive, and those who were complicit in its use to exploit human beings for monetary gain will be held accountable for their heinous actions", said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Ferrer agreed, in combined plea deals with both Texas and California authorities, where he faced outstanding charges, that he will shut down Backpage "throughout the world", will aid authorities in ongoing prosecutions of his co-conspirators, and will make all Backpage data available to authorities.




Ferrer was taken into custody following a joint investigation by the Texas and California attorneys general.

In a federal indictment unsealed Monday and cited by the Associated Press, the website's founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, are accused of facilitating prostitution by running ads for sexual services and laundering the revenues. He is cooperating with the continuing investigation into the company and other possible defendants.

Among other claims, the report said that Backpage.com was editing the language on its site to strip out terms that were related to underage girls before the ads were posted in the adult section.

The company founders were among Backpage officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona. 'But this illegality stops right now'.

Along with the prison time, Ferrer could also face a $250,000 fine in the federal case in Arizona, while Backpage.com could face a maximum fine of $500,000 for its money laundering conspiracy plea in the Arizona case.

Ferrer further admitted that he conspired with other Backpage principals to find ways to knowingly facilitate the state-law prostitution crimes being committed by Backpage's customers.

But his attorney, Paul Cambria, told Reuters following the proceedings that US District Judge Bridget Bade had agreed to release him on $1 million bond, with home monitoring, if financial papers were in order.