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Backpage.com Founders Charged With Facilitating Prostitution And Laundering Money
14 April 2018, 08:17 | Damon Campbell
"But this illegality stops right now".
Seven people employed by Backpage.com, including co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were charged in a 93-count indictment unsealed on Monday.
Backpage.com is pleading guilty to human trafficking charges in Texas, according to a release from the Texas Attorney General's office.
In his federal bargain, Mr. Ferrer, 5-7, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to " facilitate prostitution using a centre in foreign or interstate trade, and conspiracy to take part in money laundering, confessing he'd " long know that the fantastic majority" of their advertisements onto back page for "adult" & &;ldquo;escort" agencies are actually advertisements for prostitution.
The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation concluded, Portman said, that Backpage.com "knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and children, coached traffickers on how to evade justice, and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits".
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.
In exchange for his cooperation, Ferrer will serve a maximum of five years in each case, to be served concurrently. The FBI seized Backpage.com on April 6, leaving nothing but a notice informing users of the website's seizure by the USA government.
The company founders were among company officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona, while Ferrer, 57, was noticeably absent from the indictment.
Azariah Conley, Armando Valdivia and Moses Avila all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first degree burglary and identity theft after reaching an agreement with the state.
The investigation was a joint effort between Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Joint Regional Intelligence Center, along with several U.S. Attorney's offices.
Although he has agreed to testify against other executives at Backpage, the California plea agreement indicates that Ferrer will face up to five years in prison; sentences handed down in Arizona and Texas would run along the same time period.
Ferrer, along with Lacey and Larkin, had faced criminal charges for conspiracy to pimp and other related counts in California. He called Ferrer's plea "a game-changer in combatting human trafficking in California, indeed worldwide".
President Trump yesterday signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 into law, making it easier for law enforcement to take legal action against any websites that enable human trafficking. "There is no one in the entire world who made more money off sex trafficking than the owners of this website", she said.
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