Carl Ferrer, 57, CEO and co-founder of Backpage.com,arrested last October, has pleaded guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
In a plea agreement signed April 5, one day before the Backpage seizure , Ferrer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce and to engage in money laundering. He could spend up to five years in prison or pay a maximum fine of $250,000, according to the plea agreement, which requires him to cooperate with the government in shutting down the site. Backpage co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, as well as five other executives, face 93 charges involving facilitating prostitution through the Backpage site and money laundering.
“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 press statement. Ferrer was also involved, according to the Senate report, in attempting to obscure Lacey and Larkin’s financial involvement in Backpage through a sale to Ferrer. The two lent Ferrer $600 million to purchase the company, the report said. As the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world, Backpage facilitated the sex trafficking of innocent women and children through sites it ran for 943 locations in 97 countries and 17 languages. It was involved in 73 percent of all child trafficking cases reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.