Backpage sales and marketing director Dan Hyer pled guilty on Friday to conspiring to facilitate prostitution, according to The Associated Press. Hyer becomes to the second Backpage employee to take a guilty plea in cases in Arizona amid accusations that the site ignored warnings to cease running prostitution ads, which have occasionally involved children. Hyer faces up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. However, prosecutors will dismiss the 50 facilitating prostitution charges, and 17 money laundering charges that he also faced.
As part of his plea, Hyer acknowledges that Backpage was involved in a scheme that would offer free advertising opportunities to prostitutes in an effort to pull attention away from their competitors. He laid out the site’s strategy from about 10 to 11 years ago where they would copy ads from the adult section of Craigslist, repost them, and offer the client the ad space for free. The ads were deemed illegal because they included links that redirected people to another site where they could post reviews. Authorities allege that Backpage amassed revenue upwards of $500 million from items related to prostitution since 2004.
Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pled guilty to state and federal charges of conspiracy and money laundering charges in April. As part of his plea deal, Ferrer would serve five years behind bars. His ruling came shortly after the site was shut down by the FBI.