'But this illegality stops right now'.
In the plea agreement Ferrer - identified in the indictment only by the initials "C.F." - acknowledged wrongdoing, saying he worked with co-conspirators to "create "moderation" processes through which Backpage would remove terms and pictures that were particularly indicative of prostitution and then publish a revised version of the ad".
In a federal indictment unsealed Monday and cited by the Associated Press, the website's founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, are accused of facilitating prostitution by running ads for sexual services and laundering the revenues.
While many have lauded the charges as a blow to prostitution and human sex trafficking, many critics have argued that banning the site, which was commonly used to solicit sex, will now force women to sell themselves on the streets.
The acknowledgements of wrongdoing came shortly after Ferrer pleaded guilty on Thursday to a state money laundering charges in California and the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Texas. The truth is releases on Thursday, " they were clarified by attorneys-general Xavier Becerra of California and Ken Paxton of all Texas as major victories.
Ferrer has also agreed in his California plea to take down every Backpage-affiliated website that he can within five days and forfeit all Backpage-related domains within 14 days.
The company founders were among company officials indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona, while Ferrer, 57, was noticeably absent from the indictment. "I want to thank the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement officials, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and the prosecutors and law enforcement in my office for their outstanding collaborative work on this investigation and prosecution".
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Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to human trafficking in three states.
Carl Ferrer will serve no more than five years in state prison under the plea agreement. This comes less than a week after the attorney general's office assisted the Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website.
Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority.
The statement did not state, however, where the pleas were entered or if they were entered in Texas.
Ferrer, along with Lacey and Larkin, had faced criminal charges for conspiracy to pimp and other related counts in California. The FBI has done this before with other sex trafficking websites and online pharmacies.
The site was the dominant hub for sex workers to advertise their services, and it had come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as the United States government made efforts to crack down on sex trafficking with legislation like the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), which President Trump signed this week.