Three North Texans charged in Backpage
“I do not appreciate the media filtering my search engine results, most particularly when it involves Children being Abused or Trafficked, so here are the names of the 7 defendants charged:”
“The seven defendants charged in the indictment are Michael Lacey, 69, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; James Larkin, 68, of Paradise Valley, Arizona; Scott Spear, 67, of Scottsdale, Arizona; John E. “Jed” Brunst, 66, of Phoenix, Arizona; Daniel Hyer, 49, of Dallas, Texas; Andrew Padilla, 45, of Plano, Texas and Jaala Joye Vaught, 37, of Addison, Texas.”
~ Robert StrongBow ~
“Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering.”
April 9, 2018
PHOENIX, AZ – The founders of Backpage.com and five others at the classified site have been indicted on federal charges in what authorities say was a scheme to facilitate prostitution by running ads for sexual services and hiding their revenues.
An indictment unsealed Monday alleges that Backpage.com on some occasions had helped customers edit their ads so they would stay within legal limits while still encouraging commercial sex.
In one area, the indictment reads, “for several years, Backpage’s official policy, when presented with an ad featuring child prostitution, was to delete the particular words in the ad denoting the child’s age and then publish a revised version of the ad.”
It also says that Backpage claimed it does everything in its power to alert the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children whenever it becomes aware that a child is being advertised on the website.
But the indictment alleges that Backpage implemented policies to limit referrals to NCMEC.
The indictment says a top official emailed another saying, “If we don’t want to blow past 500 (referrals to NCMEC) this month, we shouldn’t be doing more than 16 a day.”
Other documents are referred to in the indictment saying a training document instructed website moderators not to send emergency alerts to NCMEC in response to complaints filed by the grandparents or other extended family being advertised on the website.
Website founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin are charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering.
They are already facing state money laundering charges in California.
Larry Kazan, who represents Lacey, didn’t return a call seeking comment. There is no listing for Larkin’s attorney.
Seven defendants charged in the indictment include three people from North Texas, 49-year-old Daniel Hyer, of Dallas, 45-year-old Andrew Padilla, of Plano, and 37-year-old Jaala Joye Vaught, of Addison.
Authorities also have seized Backpage.com and its affiliated websites.
Julia Walsh, a sex trafficking survivor from the DFW area, says that she was sold for sex on Backpage for almost 3 years.
By age 19, she says men were paying as little as $40 for sexual encounters.
Walsh says she was trafficked from 2010 to 2014, and that her first trafficker was her boyfriend.
“They would post an ad about me, and we’d get over like 50 calls within an hour that’s just how many people are visiting the website,” Walsh said.
Walsh says she would have at least 200 sexual encounters with customers weekly.
“Probably about 210. Sometimes more and sometimes less. It depends what city we were in and what time of day it was,” Walsh said.
Now 26, Walsh says she was rescued during a police sting in 2014.
That was just two years before agents raided Backpage’s Dallas headquarters. On Monday, Attorney General Ken Paxton said that evidence was taken during the raid that was crucial to crafting the 93-count indictment.
At the time, CEO Carl Ferrer was arrested on pimping charges. He isn’t charged in the indictment, but throughout the documents, a person with knowledge about the company is constantly referenced and is only identified with the initials “C.F.”
Tonya Stafford, a sex trafficking survivor who helps rescue women and children sold for sex online, applauded the website’s demise.
Stafford was sold for drugs when she was 13. From 1988 to 1997 she was held against her will.
Through her program “It’s Going to Be Ok, Inc.” she helps find new homes for sex trafficking victims.
She said she often visited Backpage for rescues.
“If a parent calls me or messages me saying their child is missing…I have to go through page after page,” Stafford said. “That’s the hardest part.”
On June 23rd, Stafford will be hosting the 2nd Annual Stop The Traffick Walk near Bachman Lake.