The owner of the Rentboy.com gay escort website is finalizing a plea deal to resolve controversial federal charges of promoting prostitution and money laundering, according to a new filing in federal court in Brooklyn.
Lawyers for Jeffrey Hurant, 51, the CEO of the website that allegedly grossed $10 million over five years for facilitating gay sex for pay, asked the judge in the case to schedule a “change of plea” hearing late this month.
“On behalf of our clients, Jeffrey Hurant and Easy Rent Systems, Inc., we write to apprise the Court that the defendants and the government are finalizing the details of a plea agreement,” defense lawyers Michael Tremonte and Noam Biale said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie.
A spokeswoman for Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers declined to comment, and Tremonte and Biale did not return a call seeking details of the plea being negotiated. It isn’t known what charge Hurant and the company might plead to.
Hurant and six workers at the website were charged last year, triggering protests and criticism of the government among gay activists and defense lawyers for targeting consensual gay sex. The charges against the six workers were dismissed in February.
According to a complaint filed last August, male escorts were allowed to post nude pictures on rentboy.com, advertise physical characteristics and sex acts and fetishes they would engage in, and list pay schedules ranging up to $3,000 for a weekend.
Ads cost several hundred dollars, and members paid $59.95 a month for access to the site, which claimed 500,000 unique visitors a day, 70 percent in the United States, the government said.
Hurant, at his first court appearance, told reporters he had been running the site openly for 20 years.
“I think we do good things for good people and bring good people together,” he said.