California Attorney General Kamala Harris, has filed new charges against the heads of Backpage. After having the pimping charges against Backpage dismissed, Harris is now pursuing charges of money laundering, 26 counts of it to be exact. While these new charges have been filed against Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and shareholders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, I have yet to see any information whether or not arrest warrants have been issued for them. However, they are scheduled to be arraigned on January 11th.
While I admire Ms. Harris’ dedication to the cause, she needs to tread carefully. If these charges are dismissed as well, any further legal action by the Golden State after that could be seen as persecution by the courts. It also bothers me that Ms. Harris is slated to take her new position as a US Senator shortly. Her successor is said to be the Jerry Brown nominated Congressman Xavier Becerra. Will Attorney General Becerra continue the fight against those who profit from sex trafficking with the same devotion that Ms. Harris has? Unfortunately, that remains to be seen. However, the state is looking for victims of Backpage…
The attorney general’s office encourages anyone who was a victim of trafficking via Backpage to file a report with the California Department of Justice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t say I’m feeling confident about these new charges. While the Communication Decency Act seems to be inapplicable to money laundering charges, I’d be more confident about these latest charges if they made more details public. So far Backpage has been a slippery eel when it has come to being pursued by the law. Hopefully these new charges will finally cut the heads off of this greedy and heartless monster.
UPDATE 1/26/2017: Not surprisingly, Backpage wants the latest round of pimping charges against them thrown out. However, the prosecution is sticking to their guns and further reiterating the money laundering aspect of the charges…
Prosecutors say they have new evidence to justify the case. They claim Backpage illegally funneled money through multiple companies and created various websites to get around banks that refused to process transactions.
Now that the Senate claims that Backpage was editing their ads to make them appear legal, these criminal charges may finally have a leg to stand on.
UPDATE 2/11/2017: Earlier this week, Backpage’s legal team once again tried to have the charges dismissed on free speech grounds. The presiding judge did not make a ruling but may do so on March 10th.