Rentboy.com CEO, Jeffrey Hurant, has pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution and conspiring to commit money laundering.
On Friday, Hurant accepted a plea deal of no more than two years behind bars and a $10 million fine after a year-long battle with the feds, the New York Daily News reports.
The drama began in August 2015 when Rentboy’s New York offices were raided by federal officers. Hurant and six employees were arrested and boxes and boxes of files, computer hard drives, and other company property was confiscated.
Authorities claimed the site was a poorly-disguised front for an online prostitution ring. On Friday, Hurant admitted this to be true, telling a judge in the Brooklyn Federal Court that he knew the ads on his website were for male sex workers.
Many have claimed the investigation into Rentboy.com, which claimed to have a database of over 10,000 men in 2,100 cities worldwide, was fueled by deep-seated homophobia, accusing the government of targeting the LGBTQ community.
“It was a completely sketchy, outrageous prosecution in the 21st century,” activist Bill Dobbs said after Friday’s court proceeding. “I presume [Hurant] was backed into a corner by [U.S. Attorney General] Loretta Lynch and company.”
According to the New York Daily News, “Hurant agreed not to appeal the sentence if Federal Judge Margo Brodie gives him two years or less in prison and a fine of $10 million or less.”
Neither Hurant nor his attorney have released a comment.