Backpage CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy, money laundering charges
Backpage CEO pleads guilty to conspiracy, money laundering charges
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13 April, 2018, 07:02
Also charged were Jim Larkin, co-founder of Backpage.com, and a long-time Lacey associate.
The $45 million cited by prosecutors Thursday were dollars originated in Calfornia, said former Backpage prosecutor Maggy Krell, who was at the Sacramento hearing. Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to the charges in Sacramento County Superior Court.
"The masterminds behind Backpage are not only alleged to have committed egregious amounts of financial crimes such as money laundering, they did so at the expense of innocent women and children", said Don Fort, chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. Lacey, Larkin and the others were arrested after the Justice Department seized Backpage.com and all its affiliated websites Friday.
"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.
But Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who introduced a Senate version of the bill, also lead a Senate subcommittee investigation that resulted in a report a year ago on Backpage.com's "knowing facilitation of online sex trafficking".
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In a statement Thursday, the office said Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer also had pleaded guilty to money laundering. The announcement came one day after President Donald Trump signed bipartisan legislation targeting online sex trafficking and granting states broader ability to crack down on sex traffickers.
The charges cover five other company officials. He said the website facilitated sex trafficking in 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages. Prosecutors allege Backpage's operators illegally funneled almost $45 million through multiple companies and created websites to get around banks that refused to process their transactions.
On April 6, Vaught had her initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eileen Willett of the District of Arizona and was released from custody pending trial.
Larkin remains jailed in Arizona while he awaits a hearing Monday on whether he should be released after pleading not guilty to federal charges alleging he helped publish ads for sexual services. He also admitted to conspiring with others at the company to launder the proceeds from such ads after credit card companies and banks refused to do business with the site.
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