Website shareholders jailed on California pimping charge
Oct 12 2016 by Larry Hoffman
Investigators in Harris' office focused on revenue generated from California, which accounted for about 15% of the company's global income, according to court papers. Paxton announced that Ferrer had been arrested Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, on a California warrant after arriving in Houston on a flight from Amsterdam.
State agents raided the Dallas headquarters of adult classified ad portal Backpage and arrested Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer on Thursday following allegations that adult and child sex-trafficking victims had been forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the site.
According to AVN, "The California Department of Justice's investigation found that numerous ads for prostitution services involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18".
"Mr. Ferrer looks forward to vigorously fighting these charges that we believe are trumped up", Ferrer's attorney, Philip Hilder, said after Friday's extradition hearing.
The two men who founded the Dallas company in 2004 and remain its owners, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were charged along with Ferrer in a criminal complaint filed September 26 in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Prosecutors charge that the Web site was used as a hook-up site by prostitutes - some as young as 13 years old. Backpage has created sites in cities around the world, including over 30 in California.
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Adverts offering prostitution services were against the website's policies and were blocked, and the site removed them when contacted by law enforcement, Ms Mcdougall added.
Prosecutors say Lacey, 68, and Larkin, 67, helped operate Backpage and received earnings from the site, including a $10-million bonus each in 2014.
"Backpage is the single largest advertiser of adult escort services" in the country, Paxton said. But the attorney general of California has managed the feat. It collected $2.5 million per month just from California, or more than $51 million during the 29 months covered by the internal revenue reports.
The criminal charges, like a lawsuit pending in Washington state, skirt free-speech and federal internet immunity protections by alleging that Backpage profited by directly participating in sex trafficking, including of minors.
The charges against Ferrer could bring him almost 22 years in prison.
They put the site's estimated annual revenues at more than $150 million, calling it "a market leader in commercial sex advertising".