Several days after the much-publicized raid on its principals, the BACKPAGE indictment has now been posted on the Internet and is available for all interested parties to view. If I had a life I wouldn’t have bothered. But given that I don’t, I did. There are some curious features to the 61 page manifesto.
For starters, the founder (CARL FERRER) is apparently not being charged while 7 others are! Reading through the text, Carl is mentioned dozens of times but referred to as “C.F.” And what that says to me is Carl is cooperating. Funny how having a wife and three daughters – and serving two weeks in County lockup after getting arrested for running the site will do that! Good for Carl! As a lowly bicycle bag man for Village Voice Media, I never met the other principals (Lacey or Larkin). But rumor had it they were rough trade. And from their photos, they certainly look the part.
The charges brought against Backpage include conspiracy and money laundering of every combination and permutation imaginable. Ya know…money laundering with a blow job…money laundering with a happy ending…money laundering with two pops. You get the idea. Lots of clean money (or dirty). But no tax fraud. Apparently, they paid their taxes. But not necessarily. PAUL MANAFORT was charged with money laundering when clearly (at least to me), he was sending money offshore to avoid US income taxes.
Here’s an interesting factoid imparted to me by my big-payday lawyers: When a defendant pleads to or is convicted of a money laundering charge, the seized money goes to the district in which the defendant is being prosecuted. If that same defendant is charged with tax fraud, the proceeds are forwarded to the US treasury. So obviously at least in most cases, the prosecutor would prefer the former to the latter. Or so the boys told me.
Moving on…the first few pages of the indictment is essentially a history lesson – one which I found accurate. Backpage didn’t make any money in the beginning – and then blossomed into a behemoth within a few years, dwarfing those shitty alternative weeklies that so bashed Carl for the lack of revenue he was generating at the outset.
The next portion of the indictment is dedicated to publishing hacked interoffice emails concerning what terms the bosses wanted to delete and what sort of photos to allow on the site. I assume it’s all meant to prove that Backpage knew their ho’s were selling sex. Duh! Not exactly stimulating reading. Tell me something I don’t know.
Part 3 laundry-listed examples of girls who’d been trafficked. This I skipped over. I’m aware that when escorts get caught up they’re prone to claim that somebody made them do it. And thus, the prevalence of trafficking is overstated.
Let’s say a 16 year-old girl runs away. She’s seen too many Lifetime Channel movies about the thrills of selling ass. She wants in. Here comes the pimp daddy. Maybe he abuses her and she wants out. Maybe the parents call the police to rescue a girl who doesn’t want to be rescued. Maybe the parents had no parenting skills. Who knows? The bottom line is the girl is a minor so she skates. As do the parents. And the pimp takes the weight all while the girl gets a pass. Her voluntary participation in the scheme is almost completely discounted owing to her age. Whatever! I don’t need to read that crap. The last part is nothing but a list of overseas bank deposits. Again…I’m not inclined to study that stuff.
Finally, here’s what is most interesting about this indictment. It has nothing to do with FOSTA SESTA – and is not a result of that bill passing into law yesterday (when the president signed it). The feds finally busted their move on Backpage independent of the passage of the bill. Imagine the man-hours and money it took to bring this indictment to fruition! And then consider how much trafficking the initiative will really prevent. And how many marginal practitioners of the trade will be sent back to the street and into the pimps’ crosshairs now that they don’t have Backpage to host their ads.
Here’s a link to the indictment for your edification.