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Ex-Backpage owners head to trial over alleged sex ads

Michael Lacey and James Larkin also are accused of using cryptocurrency and wiring money to foreign bank accounts to launder revenues earned from the ad sales.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2017, file photo, former Backpage.com owners James Larkin, left, and Michael Lacey wait on Capitol Hill in Washington to appear at a congressional hearing examining the classified site. Larkin and Lacey are scheduled to go on trial Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Phoenix on charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering in what authorities say was a scheme to knowingly run ads for sexual services. Lacey and Larkin pleaded not guilty to the charges, said the site never allowed ads for sex and maintain the site's content was protected by the First Amendment. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

PHOENIX — 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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