Criminal Convictions Is What Keeps Tony Ortega Awake at Night

In the lead up to the coming trial of Tony Ortega’s former bosses the rising myriad of convictions must be giving team Tony Ortega no shortage of sleepless nights.

In addition to the convictions we mentioned in our last report, another has just come across our desk. This time it’s a Wisconsin man who prosecutors say transported seven young women across state lines and forced them into prostitution using ads on Backpage.com before U.S. authorities shut it down on federal sex trafficking charges.

The conviction of Erin Graham, 37, marks the only latest criminal case stemming from Backpage online brothel, which became the largest sex marketing website before it was seized in April of last year as part of an investigation that saw the website’s founders and Tony Ortega’s direct superiors charged in a 93-count federal court indictment.

The world waits with bated breath for what may prove to be the trial of the century next year.

Until that time we have these early convictions to give us an idea of just how robustly the Department of Justice is pursuing the Backpage cases. If, like us, you are keen to see these online pimps once and for all brought to justice these are all good signs.

Graham was found guilty of seven counts of sex trafficking following a five-day trial in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin.

During the trial victims testified they had been forced to engage in multiple acts of prostitution and turn over the money to him and his girlfriend, Patience Moore, 28, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a written statement.

He was arrested in April 2017 when a young woman ran bleeding into a Madison, Wisconsin hotel lobby and hid behind the front desk, prompting a clerk to call police. The woman told a nurse at a local hospital Graham had strangled her to the point of unconsciousness after telling him she wanted to leave.

Through violence and coercion, Graham exploited vulnerable young women into committing commercial sex acts for profit. In the process the victims were often degraded and robbed of their human dignity,” U.S. Attorney Scott Blader said in the statement.

We have long alleged that not only was Backpage aware their services were being used for such activities, they actively sought to position themselves as the go-to website for human trafficking.

Graham faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on July 1 of this year. His accomplice, Moore, pleaded guilty last month to a role in the sex trafficking scheme and also faces a possible life prison term.

The obvious question becomes clear. If a low-level pimp in Wisconsin and his accomplice each receive 15 years to life in prison for the role they played in trafficking victims of a predatory sex trade launched by Tony Ortega’s cohorts at Backpage, what would a fitting sentence be for the men who masterminded and defended the children-for-sex scheme in the first place?

That’s the question that keeps Tony Ortega awake at night.

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