Pa. firms behind Escorts.com face federal charges

November 1, 2011 - 12:55 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two Philadelphia-based companies have been charged with running a website used by prostitutes and escort services to advertise, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

National A-1 Advertising Inc. and R.S. Duffy Inc. agreed to plead guilty to money laundering conspiracy and will forfeit $4.9 million, pay a $1.5 million fine and serve 1 1/2 years of probation, according to court documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Williamsport.

The companies, both of which share the same Philadelphia address, operated Escorts.com beginning in 2007. Prostitutes and escort services paid to advertise on the site, while customers were charged subscription fees.

The companies have forfeited the domain name.

National A-1 also operates phone-sex lines and a pornographic website. Those portions of its business are unaffected by its plea agreement in the escorts.com case, according to court documents.

The government said it reserves the right to prosecute individuals associated with the companies.

National A-1's attorney declined to comment. Duffy's attorney did not immediately return a phone call.

The Associated Press reported this year that a Philadelphia company associated with National A-1, PrimeTel Communications, had gained control over several million toll-free numbers in the U.S. and Canada. The toll-free numbers redirect callers to erotic chat lines operated by National A-1.

Both firms share an office building and common ownership and list many of the same people as executives or business contacts.

The plea agreement filed Tuesday said PrimeTel will not be prosecuted by the federal government.