SACRAMENTO — Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty today to money laundering and conspiracy charges three days after the classifed ad site was seized by the Justice Department.
In addition, the company itself pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges in Texas.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that Ferrer entered a guilty plea in state court in Sacramento and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors against a pair of co-conspirators and controlling shareholders.
Ferrer will cooperate in prosecuting Backpage execs and will serve no more than five years in state prison under a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in California.
The Justice Department last week seized Backpage and charged seven individuals in a 93-count federal indictment related to interstate commerce and facilitating prostitution.
Backpage exec Michael Lacey is currently in federal detention in Arizona and may be able to post a $1 million bond for his release, according to Reuters, which cited his attorney, Paul Cambria.
Another exec, James Larkin, remains jailed in Arizona while he awaits a hearing Monday on whether he should be released after pleading not guilty to federal charges.
President Trump this week signed into law legislation known as SESTA/FOSTA, which makes it easier to prosecute website operators.
While Backpage.com was the primary target of the measure, scores of adult entertainment-oriented sites are feeling the pains of possible future enforcement within the parameters of its language. Numerous sites have even closed shop or have limited access.