CEO pleads guilty to money laundering

Carl Ferrer in 2016 has pleaded guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty to money laundering, the Texas Attorney General's Office announced Thursday.

The chief executive of a website that authorities have dubbed an "online brothel" is pleading guilty to California money-laundering charges and agreeing to cooperate in prosecuting the site's creators.

Carl Ferrer will serve no more than five years in state prison under the plea agreement announced Thursday.

He's pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and three counts of money laundering. He's also agreeing to cooperate in the ongoing prosecution of founders Michael Lacey, and James Larkin.

The founders were among those indicted this month by a federal grand jury in Arizona. Ferrer was noticeably absent from the indictment.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says Ferrer is also agreeing to make the company's data available to law enforcement.

The U.S. Justice Department shut down Backpage last week.

“Taking down Backpage and obtaining a criminal conviction for the company and its CEO represents a significant victory in the fight against human trafficking in Texas and around the world,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “I want to thank the Attorney General of California, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal law enforcement officials, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, and the prosecutors and law enforcement in my office for their outstanding collaborative work on this investigation and prosecution.”