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Thursday, November 20, 2014

MyRedbook: Accused Manager of Escort Site Takes Plea Deal

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 4:29 PM

One of the alleged operators of the escort advertising website pleaded guilty in federal court today on charges of managing the website which facilitated prostitution. 

Annmarie Lanoce pleaded not guilty earlier this year, but changed her plea today, admitting that she was guilty of helping to operate MyRedbook. The site was shut down by the FBI earlier this year. Lanoce's attorney, Geoffrey Hansen, tells SF Weekly that his client will enter a diversion agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, which will allow her to avoid a felony sentence in exchange for a probationary period of good behavior. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elise Becker said Lanoce was hired by her co-defendant, Eric Omuro, in December 2010 as a part-time assistant. According to Becker, Lanoce knew Omuro only as "Red," but met with him several times to work on the site. 

Lanoce, Becker said, managed the website, reading and moderating the discussion forums used by escorts and customers to discuss services, as well as the ads posted by escorts. Becker also said that Lanoce fielded correspondence from families and law enforcement about ads that might depict minors and deleted the ads from MyRedbook. 

MyRedbook was seized by the FBI in a June raid that sent a ripple of fear throughout the West Coast sex industry. MyRedbook hosted ads for escorts throughout California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington free of charge, which distinguished the site from its competitors. 

Omuro was charged with interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise and 24 additional counts of money laundering. The case against him is not yet over. 

Lanoce's plea comes as the Senate considers the so-called "SAVE Act." (SAVE is an acronym for Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation.) If passed, the SAVE Act will expand the federal definition of trafficking to include advertising — meaning those who operate sites similar to MyRedbook could face trafficking charges. The act would require site operators to verify the identities of anyone pictured in their online advertisements, ensure that the individuals are over 18, and maintain identification records for seven years. 

Hansen noted that the SAVE Act and the recent criminal charges against FedEx for delivering packages of drugs from suspicious pharmacies are part of a movement to hold third-party providers accountable for criminal acts that transpire through their services — a movement that he says unreasonably targets service providers.

"Her job was to delete them," he says of Lanoce's work removing underage provider's ads from MyRedbook. 

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Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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