Authorities raid online male escort service

- Federal agents and the NYPD raided an office near Union Square looking for evidence of an online male escort service. The feds say that a site called rentboy.com was operating out of that office. Authorities arrested seven people, including the CEO.

Agents and police investigators removed boxes of evidence, including several computers from the offices of rentboy.com. The business is located near Union Square at 5th Avenue and 14th Street. The online company advertises itself as the world's largest destination to meet the perfect male escort. But prosecutors say it was really the world's largest gay prostitution operation.

The criminal complaint lists seven employees of the company, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant. The defendants were arraigned in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of promoting prostitution across state lines.

The $60-a-month website was founded in 1997 and hosts thousands of paid advertisements boasting proceeds of over $10 million in the last 5 years, according to the United States Attorney's Office.

Disclaimers on the site clearly state the ads are for companionship, but the government asserts after fees are paid subscribers can select from a number of sexual services they want performed.

"As alleged, Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this internet brothel made millions of dollars from promotion of illegal prostitution," Acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie said in a statement.

Anthony Ricco represents one of the defendants. He says the case tests the boundaries of First Amendment rights.

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