The operators of Backpage.com — whose sleazy classified website was shut down by the FBI last week — have been charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering.
Those targeted in a whopping 93-page indictment unsealed Monday include everyone from company founders Michael Lacey and James Larken to Chief Financial Officer Jed Brunst and marketing Director Dan Hyer.
The federal indictment was filed in Arizona, where Backpage was founded and has money stashed in bank accounts, according to Buzzfeed, which first reported the development.
The criminal charges were returned by a grand jury March 28.
The documents paint a sick picture of a company more interested in its bottom line than the sex-trafficking victims it allegedly made money off of.
“In one internal document, LACEY actually bragged about the company’s contributions to the prostitution industry,’’ the papers say.
The company co-founder crowed, “‘Backpage is part of the solution. Eliminating adult advertising will in no way eliminate or even reduce the incidence of prostitution in this country … For the very first time, the oldest profession in the world has transparency, record keeping and safeguards,’’ the documents state.
In another internal memo, “Backpage’s media strategy was simply described as ‘Do not acknowledge the prostitution,’’ the papers charge.
In addition, “Many of the ads published on Backpage depicted children who were victims of sex trafficking,’’ the documents say.
“Once again, although Backpage has sought to create the perception that it diligently attempts to prevent the publication of such ads, the reality is that Backpage has allowed such ads to be published while declining — for financial reasons — to take necessary steps to address the problem.’’
A lawyer for Backpage, Liz McDougall, declined comment to The Post on Monday.
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