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Judge declares mistrial at trial of Backpage.com founders in Phoenix

On Tuesday, a federal judge in Phoenix declared a mistrial for the founders of Backpage.com accused of money laundering and facilitating prostitution.
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 on trial in Arizona on federal charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering in what authorities say was a scheme to knowingly run ads for sexual services. In opening statements on Wednesday Sept, 8, 2021, their lawyers said the site ran legally allowable ads for escort services, but didn’t publish ads for sex. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

PHOENIX — A judge has declared a mistrial at the trial of the founders of the lucrative classified site Backpage.com on charges of facilitating prostitution and laundering money. 

U.S. District Judge Susan Brnovich said Tuesday prosecutors had too many references to child sex trafficking in a case where no one faced such a charge. 

Michael Lacey and James Larkin were accused of taking part in a scheme to knowingly sell ads for sex on the site. Lacey and Larkin said the site never allowed ads for sex and used people and automated tools to try to delete such ads. 

The new trial date was set for Oct. 5.

Judge Brnovich is married to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. 

RELATED: Ex-Backpage owners head to trial over alleged sex ads

RELATED: Sex trafficking survivor speaks out about Backpage.com

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