Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleads guilty to conspiracy and money laundering
Carl Ferrer, 57, pleaded guilty to facilitating prostitution.
The founder and CEO of Backpage.com, a website related to human trafficking, has pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to facilitate prostitution and money laundering.
Carl Ferrer, 57, of Frisco, Texas, faces a maximum of five years in prison. Part of its plea deal with federal and state authorities includes forfeiting all company assets related to the website and ensuring that it is permanently shut down.
Federal authorities took control of the site last week therefore “it can no longer be used by criminals to promote and facilitate human trafficking,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement released Thursday by the Department of Justice.
“For far too long, Backpage.com has been the dominant market for the illicit sex trade, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertise to children and adults,” Sessions said. “But this illegality stops now.”
Ferrer “pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce and to engage in money laundering,” according to the Justice Department statement.
Ferrer’s plea deal also covers costs related to Backpage in California and Texas, according to court documents.
California Attorney General Xavier Bacerra said Ferrer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering. As part of the deal, Ferrer will cooperate to help prosecute two controlling shareholders of the website. These cases remain in the Superior Court of Sacramento.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Ferrer pleaded guilty to money laundering and his company pleaded guilty to human trafficking.
“Based on the factual basis of his plea deal, Ferrer admitted that he has long known that the vast majority of Backpage’s ‘escort’ and ‘adult’ ads are, in fact, ads for security services. prostitution, which is not protected by the First Amendment and which is illegal in 49 states and much of Nevada, ”the DOJ statement read.“ Ferrer further admitted that he conspired with other directors of Backpage to find ways to knowingly facilitate state law prostitution crimes committed by Backpage customers. “
Since 2004, according to the DOJ, Backpage “has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from advertising for ‘escort’ and ‘adult’.”