2nd mistrial declared on 84 counts against Backpage.com founder

By Associated Press, Jill Ryan
Published: Thursday, November 16, 2023 - 5:34pm
Updated: Friday, November 17, 2023 - 11:06am

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Man in glasses in courtroom
Associated Press
Former Backpage.com owner Michael Lacey is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington at a Senate committee on Jan. 10, 2017.

Backpage.com founder Michael Lacey was convicted Thursday on a single count of money laundering and acquitted on another. But the Arizona jury deadlocked on 84 other counts against him in a case that alleged he participated in a scheme to sell sex ads through the lucrative classified site, leading the federal judge to declare a mistrial.

It marked the second time a mistrial has been declared in the case against the founder of the site. U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa in Phoenix declared the mistrial after jurors deliberated for six days.

Lacey’s first trial in 2021 ended in a mistrial when another judge concluded prosecutors had too many references to child sex trafficking in a case where no one faced such a charge.

Lacey, 75, was tried on a total of 86 criminal counts in the case against him and four other Backpage employees.

Chief financial officer John Brunst was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and more than 30 money laundering counts.

Executive vice president Scott Spear was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act, more than a dozen counts of facilitation of prostitution and about 20 money laundering counts.

Operations manager Andrew Padilla and assistant operations manager Joye Vaught were acquitted of a conspiracy charge and dozens of counts of facilitation of prostitution.

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