PHOENIX: A co-founder of Backpage.com charged with knowingly facilitating prostitution and money laundering will likely be released from federal detention later this week after posting US$1 million bond, his attorney said on Wednesday.
Michael Lacey, who was charged along with six others in a 93-count indictment this week following the seizure and removal from the internet of Backpage.com, a classified listing website, and affiliated websites, remained in custody following a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Arizona.
But his attorney, Paul Cambria, told Reuters following the proceedings that U.S. District Court Judge Bridget Bade had agreed to release him on US$1 million bond, with home monitoring, if financial papers were in order.
Cambria said those arrangements should be in place by Friday, when Lacey, 69, and attorneys for both sides were expected back in court.
Prosecutors declined to comment following the hearing but argued in documents filed ahead of time that Lacey was a significant flight risk and a danger to the community and should not be released unless the court imposed stringent release conditions” that included wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet and providing a detailed account of his financial holdings.
Lacey was arrested last week after a federal grand jury in Arizona indicted the former publishing executive for his role in the operations of the heavily-trafficked website that authorities said was used primarily to sell sex.
Also charged were Jim Larkin, co-founder of Backpage.com, and a long-time Lacey associate. He remains in custody.
Prosecutors accuse the Backpage of generating US$500 million in prostitution-related revenue since its 2004 start, and of money laundering by routing funds through seemingly unrelated entities, using foreign accounts and converting it into and out of cryptocurrencies.
Also charged in the indictment were Backpage.com’s executive vice president Scott Spear, chief financial officer John “Jed” Brunst, sales and marketing director Dan Hyer, operations manager Andrew Padilla and assistant operations manager Joye Vaught.
(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sam Holmes)