BROOKLYN — The former owner of Rentboy.com pleaded guilty Friday to promoting prostitution.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Levy accepted Jeffrey Hurant's plea and that of parent company Easy Rent Systems Inc. to money laundering..
"I'm guilty because I agreed to accept payment with advertisers and promoted their exchange of sexual activity for a fee," Jeffrey Hurant, who was CEO of the company, said at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn this morning.
Hurant, as part of a plea deal, agreed not to appeal the case in exchange for a maximum two-year prison sentence.
If he appeals his sentence, he could face up to five years. He also could get three years of supervised release, a maximum fine of $290,000.
Easy Rent Boy Systems Inc. faces a five-year maximum probation, a $500,000 fine at minimum and up to twice its value at maximum for the guilty plea to money laundering. The company will not be allowed to appeal.
Hurant and Easy Rent Systems previously pleaded not guilty over the charges.
Activist William Dobbs, who attended today's hearing, told XBIZ that "after 19 years of operating openly, Rentboy.com was raided and turned into a federal crime."
"The war on sexual civil liberties continues, thanks to the feds in Brooklyn and their boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch," he said.
In the indictment, prosecutors said that male escorts paid at least $59.95 per month and up to several hundred dollars to advertise on Rentboy.com, which generated more than $10 million from 2010 to 2015.
Before authorities shut the website and offices down, Rentboy.com reportedly lured about 500,000 unique visitors each day.
Hurant charged advertisers up to about $300 per ad, according to the indictment. Advertisers were encouraged to publish their penis size, build, indicate whether they had foreskin and whether they preferred to have safe sex or bareback sex.
The Rentboy.com domain recently changed hands after it was seized by the government. Today, the Rentboy.com site offers click-through links.
The case has had many critics who have accused the government of meddling in their personal sex lives.
Numerous media outlets also have blasted the government’s prosecution of Hurant.
In an editorial, the New York Times said prosecutors weren’t justified shutting down "a company that provided sex workers with a safer alternative to street walking or relying on pimps."
Hurant is due back in court on Feb. 2 to learn his fate at a sentencing hearing.
Pictured: Federal authorities outside of Rentboy.com's offices during raid several years ago