Unfortunately it wasn’t anyone from Backpage.
I originally posted about Eric Omuro here. He was the operator of escort website MyRedbook when he was arrested by the FBI on prostitution and money laundering charges back in June. Earlier this month Omuro pleaded guilty to facilitating prostitution.
Omuro admitted that the website hosted advertisements posted by prostitutes containing explicit photos, graphic descriptions of sexual services offered, and rates for the sexual services.
The reason this is a big deal is because it’s the first successful prosecution of its kind. Normally people like this hide behind free speech arguments or the massively outdated Communications Decency Act of 1996 to say that they’re not responsible for what their users post on their websites. However the website operators like Omuro know that these ads are for prostitution. They’re not that stupid and are too greedy to stop.
Hopefully Omuro’s guilty plea put Backpage on notice letting them know maybe they’re not as untouchable as they think they are.
UPDATE 5/2/2015: As part of his plea agreement Omuro must forfeit two cars and over one million dollars. Sentencing is scheduled for later this month.
UPDATE 5/27/2015: Omuro was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison.
And for those of you defending Omuro and MyRedBook…
The FBI identified more than 50 juveniles advertising prostitution on myRedBook, according to court documents.
Now hopefully the feds can go after Backpage before they flee the country.