Backpage chief pleads guilty, will cooperate in prostitution case

Backpage chief pleads guilty, will cooperate in prostitution case

The founders of Backpage.com, which was shut down by the federal government last week, have been charged with knowingly facilitating prostitution-related crimes through the website, as well as money laundering, according to an indictment unsealed in federal court on Monday.

The guilty pleas by the company and 57-year-old CEO Carl Ferrer were made on April 5, but were unsealed late Thursday afternoon.

The state of California is pursuing separate money laundering charges against Lacey, Larkin and Ferrer.

Federal prosecutors dispute Backpage's claims that it bars customers offering illegal services and uses "computerized filters" and human moderators to edit wording of ads that explicitly offer sex for money, arguing the defendants acknowledge in company documents and private meetings they were aware of the prostitution being offered on the website.

Ferrer also agreed to make the company's data available to law enforcement.

Ferrer has also agreed in his California plea to take down every Backpage-affiliated website that he can within five days and forfeit all Backpage-related domains within 14 days.

The founders also were among those indicted this month by a federal grand jury in Arizona.




Backpage.com and its affiliated websites were seized on Friday by USA federal law enforcement authorities and taken off the internet. "[The] editing practices were only one component of an overall, company-wide culture and policy of concealing and refusing to officially acknowledge the true nature of the services being offered in Backpage's "escort" and "adult" ads". Ferrer's attorneys did not immediately respond to request for comment.

CEO Carl Ferrer is pictured after his arrest on pimping charges in 2016.

The Texas and California attorneys general worked together to find evidence that adult and child sex trafficking victims were forced into prostitution, Breitbart Texas reported.

Backpage.com was a website that carried sex ads. "And the conviction of CEO Ferrer is a game-changer in combating human trafficking in California, indeed worldwide".

Larkin and Lacey remain jailed in Arizona while awaiting hearings on whether they should be released after pleading not guilty to federal charges alleging they helped publish ads for sexual services. Magistrate Judge Bridget Bade said Thursday that attorneys have agreed on the terms of release, but other details must be ironed out. But a letter provided to the committee before the hearing said the site and its employees "agree that human trafficking is abhorrent and should be eradicated" and that it "has spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars" working with law enforcement to fight trafficking.

The state Attorney General's Office said Thursday that Ferrer will cooperate with prosecutors in the case against Larkin and Lacey, which will continue in Sacramento Superior Court.

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