Backpage.com pleading guilty to human trafficking charges in Texas

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The truth is releases on Thursday, " they were clarified by attorneys-general Xavier Becerra of California and Ken Paxton of all Texas as major victories.

"It is my honest hope that my client's tenacity and today's news of Backpage.com's acknowledgment of its guilt in facilitating human trafficking will encourage other survivors of human trafficking to come forward, tell their stories, and hold wrongdoers accountable", he said.

Along with the prison time, Ferrer could also face a $250,000 fine in the federal case in Arizona, while Backpage.com could face a maximum fine of $500,000 for its money laundering conspiracy plea in the Arizona case.

The seven defendants charged in the indictment are Michael Lacey, 69, of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; James Larkin, 68, of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; Scott Spear, 67, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; John E. "Jed" Brunst, 66, of Phoenix; Daniel Hyer, 49, of Dallas; Andrew Padilla, 45, of Plano, Texas; and Jaala Joye Vaught, 37, of Addison, Texas. Ferrer also agreed to cooperate in the ongoing California prosecution against the founders who have not pleaded guilty.

Lacey and Larkin also earlier pleaded not guilty in California after Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Larry Brown previous year allowed the state to continue with money laundering charges.

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking in three states.

Ferrer was taken into custody following a joint investigation by the Texas and California attorneys general.

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Ferrer was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston in October 2016 after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam, accused of running a "pimping conspiracy".

Under his plea agreement, Ferrer agreed to make the company's data available to law enforcement as investigations and prosecutions continue.

The Dutch-owned company is incorporated in DE, but its principal place of business is in Dallas. Lacey, Larkin and the others were arrested after the Justice Department seized Backpage.com and all its affiliated websites Friday.

The plea deal also included admissions from Ferrer that a large number of the site's ads were for sex services and that he schemed with others to launder proceeds from the ads after credit card companies and banks wouldn't do business with them.

The company founders were among company officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona, while Ferrer, 57, was noticeably absent from the indictment.

Ferrer further admitted that he conspired with other Backpage principals to find ways to knowingly facilitate the state-law prostitution crimes being committed by Backpage's customers.

On Wednesday, President Trump 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.

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