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Warrants issued for former Phoenix New Times owners in Backpage.com case

PHOENIX — Warrants have been issued for two people who used to own the Phoenix New Times.

Warrants were issued for Michael Lacey, 68, and James Larkin, 67 after Carl Ferrer, the chief executive for Backpage.com, was arrested this week on charges that allege sex-trafficking victims were forced into prostitution through escort ads posted on the website.

Lacey and Larkin founded the website in 2004, and Ferrer was brought on to manage the site’s operation, according to California court records. Larkin and Lacey each received $10 million bonuses from the website in September 2014, according to court documents.

The California arrest warrants allege that the men have known for at least the last five years that their site is a hub for the illegal sex trade, “and that many of the people who advertised for commercial sex on Backpage.com are victims of sex trafficking, including children.”

It wasn’t immediately clear Friday whether either man had been arrested or whether they had attorneys. The two men are former owners of the Village Voice and the Phoenix New Times.

Lacey and Larkin sold the Phoenix New Times in 2012.

Lacey and Larkin were involved in a lawsuit against Maricopa County Sheriff for years. They were awarded $3.75 million in the suit for being falsely arrested.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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