Backpage.com co-founder likely to be released on Friday -- attorney

Backpage.com co-founder likely to be released on Friday -- attorney

Attorney General Ken Paxton also announced Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has pleaded guilty to money laundering after a federal grand jury returned a 93-count indictment against his website. Ferrer was not charged in the indictment.

Ferrer additionally pleaded guilty to state money laundering charges in California as well as Texas, where the company itself pleaded guilty to human trafficking, according to the attorneys general in those states.

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

Ferrer will be sentenced to up to five years in prison once he's fulfilled the terms of his plea agreement with Paxton's office.

"While there is no silver bullet to end sex trafficking, to stop its largest beneficiary is a huge step in the right direction", Krell said following the hearing. Federal agents raided Backpage's Phoenix offices last week, a 96-count federal indictment followed and new legislation has been proposed that would make it easier for states to go after sex traffickers and the websites that harbor them.

The two plea deals, which cover both Ferrer personally and Backpage.com LLC, were unsealed just a day after President Donald Trump enacted a law that targets Backpage and its ilk.

The terms of the agreement also require Ferrer to assist U.S. authorities to shut the operation down, as well as forfeit to the government corporate assets and other property owned or controlled by Backpage-linked entities.

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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 behind the classified ads site have since been charged with money laundering and facilitating prostitution.

Backpage is accused of taking $500 million revenue from sexual services ads.

But Brown threw out pimping conspiracy and other state charges against Backpage's operators. It also executed a search warrant on the Dallas headquarters of Backpage.

"This website will no longer serve as a platform for human traffickers to thrive, and those who were complicit in its use to exploit human beings for monetary gain will be held accountable for their heinous actions", said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Ferrer stood with attorney Nanci Clarence for the brief hearing before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown.

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". Also indicted were Backpage.com executives and employees Scott Spear, John "Jed" Brunst, Dan Hyer, Andrew Padilla and Joye Vaught.

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