Backpage Wins Mistrial in Prostitution and Bitcoin Money Washing Case

Federal government prosecutors have been taking previous classifieds website Backpage in order to task over allegations associated with facilitating child sex trafficking, with one government see testifying that sex function doesn’t exist; only sex exploitation. Only one problem: Backpage’s founders aren’t on test for child sex trafficking—they’re facing charges that their particular site facilitated prostitution throughout state lines and that they washed money using Bitcoin right after payment processors cut off the website.
The steady drumbeat associated with “child sex trafficking” text messages was enough for Oughout. S. District Court Assess Susan Brnovich to these days grant the defense the mistrial. “The testimony elicited from the victims went past what it should have, ” the girl declared, adding that see testimony had also coloured the jury’s thinking.
The particular site’s founders, Michael Lacey and James Larkin, had been indicted in 2018, together with five others, after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pled guilty to conspiracy in order to facilitate prostitution and wash money; he duly turned on his former colleague. Based on the indictment, Backpage raked much more than $500 million within “prostitution-related revenue” before it had been seized by authorities plus shut down.
As credit card companies ended servicing the site due to its organization with illegal activity, the federal government claims that it laundered money by accepting checks plus money orders under a various name, wiring Backpage profits to foreign bank accounts and back into defendants’ accounts, plus exchanging fiat for cryptocurrency.
In addition to cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken, among the services they allegedly utilized to launder the funds has been Crypto Capital, a Panama-based payment processor whose owner has been accused of financial institution fraud and running a good unauthorized “shadow bank” pertaining to exchanges.

The indictment performs up purported sex trafficking, particularly of children, via the website’s listings and advertisements, yet Judge Brnovich warned the particular prosecutors to tone lower such accusations in this regard.
These people didn’t. “I, at the beginning of this particular, gave the government some freedom, because child sex trafficking, sex trafficking, are types of prostitution, ” she mentioned, adding later: “The authorities has abused that freedom. “