Former ‘Phoenix New Times’ cofounders off the hook of pimping charges

By Stephen Lemons | Phoenix New Times

California Attorney General and U.S. Senator-elect Kamala Harris/Lonnie Tague/Department of Justice
California Attorney General and U.S. Senator-elect Kamala Harris/Lonnie Tague/Department of Justice

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a rising star in the Democratic Party, handily won election in November to become the Golden State’s next U.S. senator, but her courtroom crusade against the online-classifieds giant Backpage.com is a nonstarter.

Late Friday afternoon, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman issued his final decision, dismissing criminal charges against Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the co-founders of Phoenix New Times, and Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer. In 2012, Lacey and Larkin sold New Times’ parent company to longtime company executives. Though Lacey and Larkin say they sold their interest in Backpage in 2014, Harris had charged all three men with one count of conspiracy to pimp and hit Ferrer with nine additional counts of pimping, five of those involving minors.

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