An indictment unsealed Monday alleges that Back. Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering. It is also known for listings adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.
The recently-unsealed indictment, filed last month in the U. District Court in Arizona, says Lacey, Larkin, and the five other defendants have attempted to make it appear as if the for sexual services on the site were lawful, but called that a "fiction deed to conceal the true nature of Back's and customers. The indictment said many published on Back.
While the site maintains it diligently tries to prevent prostitutionit still allows them and has declined to take steps to confront the problem, the indictment said. The seven people charged in the federal indictment are accused of trying to sanitize by removing photos and words that were indicative of prostitution and then publishing a revised version of the notices.
The company is accused of laundering money by wiring ad proceeds into foreign bank s. Executive vice president Scott Spear was charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering, while chief financial officer John Brunst was charged with money laundering.
Sales and marketing director Dan Hyer, operations manager Andrew Padilla and assistant operations manager Joye Vaught also were charged with facilitating prostitution. The indictment alleged that Padilla threatened to fire any employee who acknowledged in writing that the escorts depicted in were actually prostitutes.
There were no lawyers listed in court records for Spear, Brunst, Hyer and Padilla. Stephen Weiss, attorney for Vaught, didn't immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.
Larry Kazan, who represents Lacey, didn't return a call seeking comment. There is no listing for Larkin's attorney.
Federal law enforcement authorities seized the online classified site and its affiliated websites on Friday. A notice that appeared Friday afternoon at Back.
The notice doesn't characterize or provide any details on the nature of the enforcement action. Lacey and Larkin already facing state money laundering charges in California. State prosecutors there have said they illegally funneled money through multiple companies and created various websites to get around banks that refused to process transactions.
They have pleaded not guilty. The California state attorney general's office also had moved to file pimping conspiracy and other charges against the Back. However, a judge dismissed them, saying they relate to the publishing of sex-related advertisements and could not be filed because of a federal law protecting free speech that grants immunity to websites that post content created by others.
Officials have struggled with how to deal with the website without violating free speech protections. Federal officials say Back. The indictment says Lacey and Larkin purportedly sold their interest in Back.
Lacey and Larkin were arrested in Arizona by then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office in for publishing information about a secret grand jury subpoena demanding information on its stories and online readers. Please enter address to continue.
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