Backpage CEO Again Released on Bail Over Pimping Charges

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By Alexis Kramer

The CEO of classified ad site Backpage.com LLC, who faces criminal pimping and money laundering charges related to alleged sex trafficking on the site, is free on bail, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Justice told Bloomberg BNA ( People v. Ferrer, Cal. Super. Ct., No. 16FE024013, hearing 4/28/17 ).

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and the site’s former owners, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, were released on bail after an April 28 arraignment hearing, spokeswoman Tania Mercado said. Ferrer’s bail was $500,000. Lacey’s and Larkin’s bail each was $250,000.

Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris initially charged the three executives of Backpage, on which many ads allegedly involved sex trafficking victims, with conspiracy to pimp, and Ferrer with pimping. Those charges were dismissed in December under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a federal statute that shields online publishers from liability for third-party content.

New charges—pimping as well as money laundering—were then filed later in December. In January, a Senate subcommittee report said that Backpage knowingly concealed sex trafficking ads by systematically deleting incriminating terms.

The executives have until July 14 to move to dismiss the charges.

An attorney for Backpage didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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