San Francisco, California - A California man pleaded guilty today in connection with his operation of the myRedBook.com website to facilitate prostitution. This represents the first federal conviction of a website operator for facilitation of prostitution.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office and Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Office made the announcement.
Eric Omuro, also known as “Red,” 53, of Mountain View, California, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of the Northern District of California to using a facility of interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate prostitution. His co-defendant, Annemarie Lanoce, 40, of Rocklin, California, pleaded guilty on Nov. 20, 2014, for assisting Omuro with the operation of the myRedBook.com website. Omuro’s sentencing hearing is set for March 26, 2015, and Lanoce’s sentencing hearing is set for March 19, 2015.
As part of the plea agreement, Omuro admitted that from April 2010 until June 25, 2014, he owned, managed, and operated a website known as myRedBook.com, which was previously known as sfredbook.com. Omuro admitted that the website hosted advertisements posted by prostitutes containing explicit photos, graphic descriptions of sexual services offered, and rates for the sexual services. The advertisements were searchable by geographic location, including cities throughout California, other U.S. states, and Canada.
Omuro admitted that members of his website and prostitutes typically used acronyms for sex acts, which were defined in graphic detail in the website’s “Terms and Acronyms” section. While prostitutes could post advertisements for free, myRedBook.com offered additional options for a fee. For example, prostitutes could pay a fee to have their advertisement featured more prominently on the website. Similarly, customers could access myRedBook.com for free. If a customer purchased a membership, however, the customer obtained early and enhanced access to prostitute reviews, enhanced prostitute review search options, and access to additional VIP forums, among other things.
As part of the plea agreement, Omuro agreed to the forfeiture of the domain names sfRedBook.com and myRedBook.com and more than $1.28 million in cash and property as proceeds and other property involved in his unlawful activity.
Omuro was arrested on June 25, 2014, on a warrant issued following his indictment.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, the IRS-CI, and the Oakland Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance to the prosecution.