Tony Ortega’s Driving Fear

Yesterday we looked at how Tony Ortega was used as a ‘tool’ of the devious individuals behind Backpage. He was what the Soviet propagandists used to call, “a useful idiot”, a political term used to describes  a person  who, through manipulation, is useful to a cause that is not their own despite not fully realizing the role they play. This makes them “an idiot, an unwitting and useful pawn.

We saw how this same basic set up was essential to make the Backpage sex-trafficking business model work — from the executive board at the top to the rank and file pimps on the street.

Take for example the case that played out in a courtroom in Buffalo, NY last Thursday when a woman took the witness stand in the sex trafficking and narcotics conspiracy case against her pimp Valentino Shine Sr., who she said led her into the seedy – and lucrative – world of online prostitution by taking advantage of her drug addiction and low self-esteem after befriending her at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

Shine, who seemed to be operating directly from the same playbook used by Backpage to ‘hook’ Tony Ortega, offered her a place to stay when her boyfriend was about to leave her. He positioned himself to become her crack supplier and her pimp. He taught her how to use Backpage.

Shine had control over this poor woman because he knew she was vulnerable and had nowhere to turn. She had been in and out of homelessness, unable to keep a regular job. She needed the money badly and blindly obeyed anyone who was willing to pay her for her time. (Sound like anyone we know?)

One doesn’t need to read between the lines to see just how like Tony Ortega this failed prostitute is.

Shine would often hit her, mostly on the head, if she broke rules. As she explained on court on Thursday: “I was scared for my life… I always got hit in the head.”

While Tony Ortega may never have faced the threat of physical violence, the fear he might lose his job as chief propagandist of the Backpage crime family must surely have been a motivating fear — for nothing keeps Tony Ortega awake at night quite like the fear he might have to one day get a real job.

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