Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer takes plea deal, agrees to testify against other site officials

Carl Ferrer, chief executive of Backpage.com, which was seized by the federal government one week ago, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges in California and Texas, and officials unsealed plea agreements made last week in an Arizona federal court.

Ferrer, 57, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in California, and to money laundering in Texas, the states’ attorneys general announced. Additionally, the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Texas.

 

The New York Times reports that “The state-level pleas were required by the federal plea agreements Mr. Ferrer and Backpage entered on April 5 in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. In news releases on Thursday, political hack Attorneys General Xavier Becerra of California and Ken Paxton of Texas described them as major victories in combating human trafficking.”

Under his federal plea deal, Ferrer pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to facilitate prostitution using a facility in interstate or foreign commerce, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, acknowledging that he had “long been aware that the great majority” of the advertisements on Backpage for “adult” and “escort” services were actually advertisements for prostitution.

According to The Washington Post,

Ferrer also acknowledged creating a “moderation” process to remove terms and pictures indicative of prostitution. “Such editing did not,” Ferrer wrote, “of course, change the essential nature of the illegal service being offered in the ad — it was merely intended to create a veneer of deniability for Backpage.” He said that these “editing practices were only one component of an overall, companywide culture and policy of concealing and refusing to officially acknowledge the true nature of the services being offered in Backpage’s ‘escort’ and ‘adult’ ads.”

In addition, Carl Ferrer admitted that he and other Backpage executives had used “shell bank accounts and cryptocurrency processing companies” to conceal the source of their revenue.

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer takes plea deal, agrees to testify against against other site officials
An image of the current home page of the website backpage.com shows logos of U.S. law enforcement agencies after they seized the sex marketplace site April 6, 2018.

5 Replies to “Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer takes plea deal, agrees to testify against other site officials”

  1. Karmafan

    The govt. goes after shit like this but does not go after cigarette companies that are tax machines for each state. If I came out with Karmfan’s Spaghetti and meatballs in a can and it was discovered the Spaghetti caused cancer the govt. would put me out of business overnight. But the cancer stick makers get a pass.

  2. LurkingReader

    Lol Karma imagine how Catholic Bishops and other orgs are feeling today realizing that the plea agreement has no fund or open claims period to compensate trafficked sex workers.

    The sealed 61page indictment shows extensive C.F. cooperation. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him walk away from Federal Prison with a gig as an expert in preventing child trafficking.

  3. LurkingReader

    Mainstream take on the fallout here.

    The problem with Backpage and other sites wasn’t advertising sex workers it was sanitizing ads instead of rejecting them when the ad clearly stated or showed underage people.

    Shutting down these sites is an immediate economic, ongoing safety concern for sex workers and it didn’t have to happen. If the site owners had openly rejected ads instead of sanitizing them they would still be up.

    The industry leaders crossed a line the same way the Catholic Church did. The church claimed passive ignorance while openly claiming the seal of confession barred them from acting (reporting abuses) until it was proven they acted by shuffling abusive clergy. Backpage claimed passive ignorance saying they couldn’t screen and reject ads trafficking unwilling sex workers until it was proven they not only screened ads they altered them.

    Passive ignorance in the spirit of live and let live works well until it doesn’t. Backpage and the Catholic Church are two examples where industry leaders choices at a fork in the road followed by years of digging in to justify those choices caused massive harm to the people who most relied on them.

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