The CEO of the infamous website Backpage.com has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in a California court, according to documents filed in the case. The CEO will face up to five years in prison for his crimes.
According to federal prosecutors, Backpage.com essentially operated as an online brothel. While the CEO has pleaded guilty to these charges, the company itself has entered a guilty plea to a human trafficking charge in Texas. Under the plea agreement, the Backpage CEO will cooperate with authorities as they seek charges against the founders of the website.
The website became notorious for advertisements for a wide range of illegal sexual services. What’s more, federal prosecutors allege the website was a central hub for human traffickers that included victims under the age of 18. However, the company alleges that the site was intended for advertisements of legitimate businesses including massage therapists, small retailers and other service-based enterprises. Additionally, the company argued that they made an active effort to scrub any advertisements for illegal activity from the website. Along with the arrests of the CEO and company founders, the U.S. Department of Justice also seized and closed the website.
Money laundering is treated seriously by law enforcement given that such schemes are often related to other criminal enterprises. An individual facing federal money laundering charges may need help during the legal process. An attorney with experience in defending federal crimes could help an alleged offender put forward the best defense possible. In some cases, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain that all parties can agree to.