Online advertising site Backpage.com was seized by the FBI

Backpage.com FBI seizure

  • Classified advertising website Backpage.com was seized by federal authorities on Friday afternoon “as part of an enforcement action” according to a notice on the website.
  • The company is known for facilitating adult sex ads, and had been involved in a number of sex trafficking-related lawsuits, but the reason for the notice has not been shared at this point. 
  • The seizure comes weeks after Congress rolled out legislation to hold websites responsible for sex trafficking conducted on their sites; it’s the same legislation that forced Craiglist to preemptively shut down its personals section

People navigating to the popular classified advertising website Backpage.com on Friday afternoon were stopped by a notice informing them that the site “and all affiliated websites” had been seized by federal authorities.

The site is known for facilitating adult sex ads, and has recently been involved in a number of lawsuits, including one in which a minor alleged that the company edited the contents of a sex ad that her trafficker posted, in order to make her sound like an adult. 

Authorities — including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, five other federal agencies, and four state agencies — involved in the case have not shared the exact reason for the seizure. The Department of Justice declined to comment beyond the information in the notice.

The seizure comes a little over a month after Congress passed a law creating stronger rules and penalties to prevent websites from facilitating sex trafficking. On March 23, Craiglist preemptively removed its personals section in fear of violating the law, which penalizes wrongdoers with a fine, up to 10 years in prison, or both.

Previously, these sites have been protected under the Communications Decency Act, which says that sites can’t be held responsible for what its users publish on a site. 

Here’s the full text of the banner:

backpage.com and affiliated websites have been seized as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, with analytical assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

Other agencies participating in and supporting the enforcement action include the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the office of the California Attorney General, and the office of the Texas Attorney General. 

Additional information will be provided at around 6:00 pm EST on Friday, April 6, by the U.S. Department of Justice, and all media inquiries should be directed to the u.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-514-2007 and press@usdoj.gov.

April 6, 2018.

SEE ALSO: Sheryl Sandberg: Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica 2 1/2 years ago but didn’t follow up

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Criminal minds: Inside the head of a man authorities believe to be a killer – CBS News

Josh Yager is a “48 Hours” producer. He investigated the disappearance of Marsha Brantley and the case against her husband Donnie Brantley for the episode, “Missing Marsha,” which airs Saturday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

Donnie Brantley may have been incredibly smart – or incredibly stupid. If he did kill his wife Marsha in 2009, he would be one of the most bumbling criminals in Tennessee history. He also may be one of the hardest to convict. 

What makes this case so tough for prosecutors, lies in what Brantley said, what he did – and what he didn’t do.

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Jana Wills

First, investigators say Brantley lied repeatedly about where and why Marsha had gone. He said she’d left him to go to Florida, and that she’d gone out west. He also claimed she’d just gone camping nearby. She never turned up anywhere and never left any sort of paper trail to back up any of her husband’s stories.   

Second, investigators say he lied about some of her most important belongings. He told police Marsha had taken her phone – but police easily obtained phone records showing the phone never left the area of the Brantleys’ house, and even suggesting Donnie himself was using it. He told investigators Marsha had left her car at a local Walmart where she worked. The first time they checked, it wasn’t there. The next time it was. Either way, the Walmart manager had never heard of Marsha Brantley.

Then there was Brantley’s strange behavior.  

He never reported his wife missing. Her family says he never tried to help them find her. Just hours after investigators first approached him, he pawned some of Marsha’s jewelry. Investigators later found the remainder of her things in garbage bags in the house.    

But if Donnie Brantley did murder Marsha – prosecutors have struggled to say how, when, where – and they can only speculate about why. That’s because there is one critical thing investigators did not find – any physical evidence of a crime. 

There’s no blood, no fingerprints, no gunshot residue, no DNA and no murder weapon. Forensics experts tell 48 Hours that’s not easy. In fact, even seasoned criminals rarely manage to get away totally clean.

But the most important missing evidence in the Marsha Brantley murder case is Marsha Brantley herself. Winning murder trials without a dead body in evidence is difficult, but far from impossible. Prosecutors maintain Donnie Brantley’s statements and behavior are the building blocks of a rock solid circumstantial case.

48 Hours was there as the case went to court.  And we were shocked by what happened next.

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Stokes County lawyer, boyfriend arrested on multiple drug charges – Winston-Salem Journal

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DANBURY — A Stokes County criminal-defense lawyer has been arrested on numerous drug charges, including conspiring with her boyfriend to sell marijuana, according to court documents.

Hayley Christine Sherman, 29, of the 600 block of West Dalton Road in King, was arrested Thursday on 16 felony and misdemeanor drug charges. That includes several counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, arrest warrants allege.

Sherman is also accused of using the house she shares with her boyfriend, James Brandon Farmer, as a place to store illegal drugs and sell them, according to court documents.

Sherman lists the house as her office address, according to the N.C. State Bar’s website.

According to her Facebook page, she and Farmer are engaged to be married.

In a news release, the Stokes County Sheriff’s Office said sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on Sherman’s house after 1 a.m. Thursday. Deputies found marijuana, digital scales and other drug paraphernalia in the house. An amount of Xanax was also found in the house. The sheriff’s office said the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation assisted in the two-month investigation.

Arrest warrants also allege that Sherman had drug paraphernalia, including digital scales and pill bottles to store marijuana. Sherman is also charged with conspiring with Farmer to sell and deliver marijuana.

The offense dates on all of her charges are March 29.

A number for her office is on the N.C. State Bar’s website. When a Winston-Salem Journal reporter called that number, a message came back saying that “the number you have dialed has calling restrictions that have prevented the completion of your call.”

Farmer, 33, who also lives in the house on West Dalton Road, is also charged with the same drug offenses as Sherman. Additionally, he is charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. Arrest warrants allege that he allowed his child, who is under 16, to stay in a house that was used for illegal drug activity.

Sherman’s license to practice law remains active. She was licensed to practice law in November 2015, according to the N.C. State Bar.

She is a graduate of Appalachian State University and Elon University School of Law. Her page on the business-networking website LinkedIn says she is a solo practitioner and is focused on criminal and family law.

“I represent indigent clients who are struggling with criminal issues and family matters, such as custody disputes,” she writes on her Linkedin page. “I regularly litigate cases in both District and Superior Court.”

Sherman was released on a $10,000 secured bond. Farmer was released on a $20,000 secured bond.

They are scheduled to appear in Stokes District Court on April 18.

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