PHOENIX (AP) — The founders of the classified site Backpage.com are scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on charges of facilitating prostitution and laundering money in what authorities say was a scheme to sell ads for sex.
Michael Lacey and James Larkin also are accused of using cryptocurrency and wiring money to foreign bank accounts to launder revenues earned from the site’s ad sales. Prosecutors say Backpage’s operators ignored warnings to stop running prostitution ads, some involving children.
Lacey and Larkin maintain content on the site was protected by the First Amendment and said the site aided law enforcement whenever when concerns arose about the safety of a woman or child.
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