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Backpage CEO pleads guilty to prostitution and money laundering charges

Backpage CEO pleads guilty to prostitution and money laundering charges

It also executed a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage, uncovering evidence that was critical in building a case against Ferrer and the company.

He also faces up to 10 years in prison.

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 previous year on Backpage.com's "knowing facilitation of online sex trafficking".

Ferrer stood with attorney Nanci Clarence for the brief hearing before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown. Authorities allege the site was often used to traffic underage victims, while company officials said they tried to scrub the website of such ads. "I want to thank the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement officials, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and the prosecutors and law enforcement in my office for their outstanding collaborative work on this investigation and prosecution".

An indictment filed in Arizona accuses seven individuals tied to Backpage.com with 93 criminal counts, including money laundering and operating a website to facilitate prostitution.

"For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike", U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Breitbart Texas and Breitbart News have reported extensively on the taking down of Backpage.com by law enforcement officials and numerous human trafficking crimes prosecuted against sex trafficking perpetrators who used the website for their marketing.

But the measure is not without its critics - some say it would undermine a basic underpinning of the internet which enables websites to host information from third parties without liability.

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Also charged in the indictment were Backpage.com executive vice president Scott Spear, chief financial officer John "Jed" Brunst, sales and marketing director Dan Hyer, operations manager Andrew Padilla and assistant operations manager Joye Vaught.

When they were called to testify before a Senate committee early past year, Lacey and Larkin invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Becerra also called the latest legal victories against Backpage "a game-changer in combatting human trafficking".

The indictment disputed the site's claims that it barred ads offering illegal services and patrolled ads with computer filters and human moderators to weed out prostitution.

Ferrer admitted that these 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.

From the Texas Attorney General's Office.

James Larkin underwent a hearing Thursday over whether to release him from jail. A trial date in the case has been set for June 5.