Government-seized website Backpage.com’s sales director Dan Hyer pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for giving free advertising to sex workers in order to keep them off completing platforms.
The plea deal, reported by the Associated Press, means federal prosecutors will drop the 50 charges of facilitating prostitution and 17 money laundering against Hyer, who now faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Hyer is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 19.
Hyer is the second Backpage employee to plead guilty. CEO Carl Ferrer also pleaded guilty to a separate federal conspiracy case in Arizona and state money laundering charges in California. The six remaining defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Hyer said that the ad conspiracy involved copying Craigslist’s adult section ads, posting the copied ad on Backpage, and then offering the lister a free ad, AP reported. He added that some of the ads were also illegal because they linked to outside websites showing ratings for the sex workers.
Backpage was a classifieds site that included ads for sex work. The website was issued multiple warnings regarding its sex work ads.