Backpage Trial

Time for a much needed update on the pending trial of the century, in which co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin will finally be called to account for the scores of sex trafficking crimes their platform made possible for so many years. The federal court trial is set for August 17 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The notorious masterminds behind Tony Ortega’s number one choice for underage sex slavery,, will be facing charges they knowingly published the ads and then laundered money from them. And they did so again and again, always managing (with Tony Ortega’s propagandistic help) to stay one step ahead of the law.

Until now.

We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about this summer trial. So we thought we’d take a moment to clear up some of the most common questions.

Why is the trial being held in Phoenix? Isn’t Backpage a foreign-owned company?

Backpage is Dutch-owned company incorporated in Delaware and based in Texas, but it kept its servers and bank accounts in Arizona. The proper jurisdiction of the case is therefore Arizona’s state capitol, Phoenix.

How have Lacey and Larkin pleaded in the case?

Founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, who worked alongside each other for years at the Phoenix New Times and built a large national chain of alternative weeklies, have pleaded not guilty to charges they facilitated prostitution and laundered money through the site.  The evidence collected by feds since the the 2018 enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, however, tells a very different story.

What do the charges allege so far?

Prosecutors allege that Backpage has brought in $500 million revenue for thinly veiled prostitution-related ads and repeatedly ignored warnings that some of the ads involved the sex trafficking for children, since its 2004 founding.  They allege that both of its co-founders and a host of other Backpage-insiders were fully aware of what they were doing.

Who else is implicated in this case?

Six others so far have been charged, including former CEO and Backpage co-founder Carl Ferrer, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to facilitate prostitution and money laundering in state courts in Texas and California and a federal court in Arizona. He has agreed to testify against Lacey and Larkin. Dan Hyer, the sales and marketing director for Backpage, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to facilitate prostitution, and admitted in court that he participated in the scheme to corner the market on prostitution ads by offering free ads to sex workers.

As of the time of this writing Tony Ortega, another Backpage conspirator, is refusing to speak openly on the subject. Questions of exactly what Tony Ortega in his role as the website’s chief apologist knew and when he knew it remain answered.

We, like many across the country, will be watching this trial closely and we will be here to keep you informed. And if and when Tony Ortega gets hauled before the magistrates to give answers for the part he played in all this, we’ll be the first to report it you. Ortega believes he has nothing to fear or worry about, but rumor has it that something is brewing.

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