PHILADELPHIA—Two Philadelphia-based internet companies, National A-1 Advertising and R.S. Duffy Inc. have pled guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy which arose out of the companies' operation of Escorts.com, which federal authorities contend was a site that prostitutes and escort services used to connect to clients.
As a result of a plea agreement announced today, the companies will forfeit $4.9 million in revenues from the site, pay a $1.5 million fine, and be put on 18 months' probation. The companies must also forfeit the domain Escorts.com to the government.
Although no individuals have been charged with crimes in connection with the plea—notably, local businessman Richard Cohen, who reportedly controls both companies—a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia said that despite the plea agreement, the government reserves the power to prosecute individuals associated with the companies.
According to an article on the Philly.com website, the two companies received subscription fees and payments in the form of money orders, checks, credit cards and wire transfers from users of Escorts.com throughout the nation, which were deposited into various accounts held by the two firms.
The charges grew out of raids conducted by the FBI, state and local police of the companies' headquarters in October of last year. At that time, 120 employees of the companies were detained and questioned, and hundreds of documents were seized over the two days the authorities spent on the companies' premises.
Also housed at the site were the servers for HotMovies.com, HomegrownVOD.com, AVNVOD.com, ElegantAngelVOD.com, ExtremeVOD.com, GayMovies.com, GroobyVOD.com, EdPowersVOD.com, BuckAngelVOD.com and more than a dozen others.