LACEY OUT OF JAIL
A federal judge on Friday set a $1 million bond for Michael Lacey, the co-founder of Backpage.com, while he awaits trial on multiple charges that the classified advertising website facilitated prostitution and that executives laundered the lucrative proceeds.
Under conditions of his release, Lacey would be subject to electronic monitoring. He would also have to post two of his properties as surety. It was not clear in the hearing which properties those were.
Lacey was arrested April 6, after a grand jury returned a 93-count indictment against seven Backpage employees and executives. Fifty of the counts, applying to six of the defendants, involved the website facilitating prostitution. The remaining counts dealt with money laundering.
Lacey, 69, appeared at the hearing Friday in Phoenix clad in black and white stripes and no handcuffs. He gave a series of brief answers – “I do, your honor,” “No, your honor” – while U.S. District Magistrate Judge Bridget Bade walked him through the conditions of his release.
Lacey also had to surrender his passport. But an attorney for Lacey, Janey Henze Cook, said in court that the passport was already in the custody of FBI agents who seized it during a raid on Lacey’s property.
James Larkin, also co-founder of Backpage, faces similar charges. He is scheduled for a detention hearing Monday.
On Thursday, the government announced that Carl Ferrer, the former CEO of Backpage, pleaded guilty to similar charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering. Ferrer admitted in his plea agreement that the website was designed to be used to enable prostitution transactions. He also said in the agreement that the website created procedures to moderate and monitor ads to give a veneer of deniability that Backpage executives knew how the site was being used.
Backpage started in 2004, bringing the classified advertising found in New
Times, including the ads sold for a premium on the literal back page of the tabloid, into cyberspace. Lacey founded
New Times and Larkin was its publisher. It was Ferrer who prodded Lacey and Larkin to create Backpage, according to a U.S. Senate report into Backpage activities.
Backpage.com co-founder Michael Lacey exits federal court in Phoenix upon release on a $1 million bond. He has been charged with money laundering and facilitating prostitution. TOM TINGLE/THE REPUBLIC