Thursday, January 18, 2024

Sex sells, just ask Michael Lacy founder of The New Times.

Phoenix, Arizona – – The prosecution began nearly six years ago and has still never ended.  The fall from Grace, was beyond epic for two self-made multimillionaire editors, Michael Lacy and the late, James Larkin.

The pair were founders of The Phoenix New Times and it’s 17 sister publication around the country.  The publications were legendary for their long form print articles that exposed political, police or government corruption and made lots of journalistic waves.  

The Press awards the pair collected were indeed in the thousands. Of course, they made enemies along the way like the late Senator, John McCain, and his wife, Cindy, who was a convicted of stealing narcotics from her non-profit organization to feed her addiction. 

The New Times ran story after story, exposing serious corruption within the Phoenix Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff, Maricopa County Attorney and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.  

On the back page of their publication were the ads.  The World Wide Web soon hosted those ads that were somewhat sexually suggestive in character, but were carefully crafted to avoid the elements of prostitution crimes. 

Technology and the internet came along and changed everything.  The world’s oldest profession is practiced by people of all ages, sexes and perversions.When it comes to the sex trade, unfortunately the pimps, madams and sex traffickers invite themselves into the profits.   There are victims in that children are no small part of the sex trade.  Adults make their own decisions on what they are willing to do to pay their rent and put food on their tables. 

The First Amendment to our constitution, generally protects publishers and writers.  However, there are a load of ambiguous, vague and complicated legal decisions that limit the constitutional protections.  

New Times, founders, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin, followed the success of, Craig’s List to get on the profits by letting anyone and everyone post their ads on Back Page. 

The conventional wisdom seemed to provide a path to publish the carefully crafted ads avoiding any direct message that sex could be purchased with cash.  That to most people would indicate running the ads seemed legal. If there was to be a crime, it would occur later between the customer and the advertiser after they met.  Seems simple enough, right? 

In the end it all depends upon the appointed Moral Authorities, and their personal, religious and what their government raw powers dictate.

Does any prosecution also involve the government officials that were exposed by Lacy and Larkins publications? Personally, I can’t see a stronger motive to destroy the powerful New Times publications. The entire prosecution reeks of revenge for the accused pair’s exposing corruption.

In April 2018, a swarm of federal agents, raided the homes and offices of both Lacey and Larkin.  An indictment followed, charging them with at least 100 offenses related to the suggestion that Back Page was nothing more than a sex trafficking tool and cash cow.

Lacy and Larkin faced hundreds of years in prison.  They were released on $1 million bail each and forced to wear ankle monitors.  

They were eventually tried, but jurors were unable reach a verdict.  So the government geared up to try them again. James Larkin eventually folded into the disease of depression, and shot himself to death.  Michael Lacy chose to continue the fight. He was only convicted in the second trial of a single count involving supposed money laundering. Left hanging were 98 counts where the second jury could not reach a verdict.

The single count conviction carries with it a 20-year prison sentence.  Since Lacey is now 75 years-old It is unlikely he may ever see freedom again. Lacey has not yet been sentenced, nor have the post trial motions been adjudicated.  The question of retrial on the 98 counts is still an option, being weighed by prosecutors. 

This prosecution cost taxpayer many millions of dollars and the defense costs were also record setting.  In the nearly six years that have past, the Michael Lacey of today can only be a shell of the man he once was. 

My thoughts are that it is time to end this mess without further punishment or wasted funds.  Back Page is long out of business.  The reality is that the involved sex workers have found other sources of advertising and are still selling their bodies doing business as usual.  The world’s oldest profession continues on non-stop despite the best efforts of the, Moral Authorities. 

Mysteriously gone today, are any meaningful investigative press  reports of government crime, or corruption.  I guess the news organizations have learned a lot from Lacy and Larkin.

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