As FBI Director, Robert Mueller awarded BackPage.com CEO Carl Ferrer recognition from the Justice Department and FBI for working in an investigative capacity to assist the FBI.
That award was bestowed on Ferrer and specifically Backpage,com by the FBI in 2011. Mueller, director at the time, signed the award. The citation may have also included a cash reward, FBI sources said.
Ironic especially since Ferrer — previously charged criminally for pimping — was arrested by the FBI last week and plead out to sweeping criminal charges on Thursday.
Last week the FBI seized the embattled BackPage.com website, the Justice Department alleging its founders and employees — including Ferrer — helped traffic underage sex victims, as well launder millions of dollars among other federal charges.
“For far too long, Backpage.com existed as the dominant marketplace for illicit commercial sex, a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday. “But this illegality stops right now.”
Sessions harsh statement came after Ferrer pleaded guilty to state and federal charges of conspiracy, money laundering and more. Ferrer likewise agreed to testify in ongoing prosecutions against other Backpage.com owners who are fighting the charges, authorities said.
But it is not the first time Ferrer has agreed to work as a rat for the FBI concerning BackPage.com’s operations. Mueller’s FBI award lists Ferrer as BackPage.com Vice President.
Issued in May 2011, Mueller’s FBI award to Ferrer reads:
“For your outstanding cooperation and assistance in connection with an investigation of great importance. The FBI’s ability to carry out its investigative responsibilities to the American people has been greatly enhanced through your help, and you can be very proud of your valuable contribution to the success achieved.”
Ferrer’s award from the FBI’s Mueller
Was Ferrer working as a confidential informant for the FBI? It is quite possible. If so, why did it take the FBI so long to close the web site, especially if it was in the business of harming and sexually exploiting children?
FBI officials reached late Thursday said it was possible Ferrer was recognized by the FBI for assisting with additional investigations depending on the working agreement between BackPage.com, Ferrer and the Bureau.
Did James Comey’s FBI work with BackPage.com too after Mueller?
Federal prosecutors say that Backpage brought in a half-billion dollars since it began in 2004, mostly through prominent risque advertising for escorts and massages, among other services and some goods for sale. Authorities allege the site was often used to traffic underage victims, while company officials said they tried to scrub the website of such ads.
Ferrer will serve no more than five years in prison under a California agreement in which he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering in California. Also Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking.
Under his plea agreement, Ferrer agreed to make the company’s data available to law enforcement as investigations and prosecutions continue. The guilty pleas are the latest in a cascade of developments in the last week against the company founded by the former owners of the Village Voice in New York City, Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68.
Ferrer could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine in the federal case in Arizona, while Backpage.com could face a maximum fine of $500,000 for its money laundering conspiracy plea in the Arizona case.