Backpage.com Founders Indicted on 93 Charges of Prostitution, Money Laundering
Seven top officials behind the website Backpage.com were arrested after a federal grand jury in Arizona indicted them on 93 counts, including facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
The defendants include founders Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68, as well as other shareholders and employees, yet the site’s current owner, Carl Ferrer, was not charged.
The indictment accuses the executives of presenting the classified-ads website Backpage as a site to advertise escort services while knowing that "the overwhelming majority of the website's ads involve prostitution." The indictment says the site made over $500 million in "prostitution-related revenue."
"Many of the ads published on Backpage depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking," according to the indictment, which alleges that Backpage's "official policy, when presented with an ad featuring the prostitution of a child, was to delete the particular words in the ad denoting the child's age and then publish a revised version of the ad."
Backpage servers were seized and shut down Friday in a raid by the Department of Justice and FBI, as well as other federal agencies and attorneys general from California and Texas.
Posted in The Takedown