Jeffrey Hurant was among seven people arrested when the Department of Homeland Security raided Rentboy's Manhattan offices last summer, but prosecutors gave each of the other defendants plea agreements, according to the paper.
In addition to the charges against Hurant, the indictment seeks the forfeiture of $1.5 million in funds seized during the raid, as well as permanent seizure of the Rentboy website, which is currently under federal control.
The 20-year-old website had more than 10,500 members and prosecutors contend it was essentially an Internet brothel, according to the criminal complaint.
One of the men arrested with Hurant used a quotation from a routine by comic actor Steve Martin in his email signature: “I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, and wholesome things that money can buy.” In addition to working for Rentboy, some of the defendants, including the social media manager, also sold services on the website, according to the complaint.
"The indictment contains several new allegations against Rentboy.com, including that the company was not stringent about verifying escorts were not underage and that it did business with an escort agency indicted in Florida for luring Hungarian men into sex slavery."
Hurant's lawyer said the charges against him were unwarranted and numerous members of the LGBT community have spoken up to defend the website. Popular gay sex advice columnist Dan Savage asked on his blog when it became the DHS's "job to protect gay and bi men from buying and selling blowjobs?" Protests were held outside Brooklyn Federal Court as well as in West Hollywood.
Hurant's lawyer Michael Tremonte defended his client as not guilty: "He ran his business openly for nearly 20 years, and it makes no sense to single him out for criminal prosecution," Tremonte said, "Mr. Hurant plans to contest the charges and looks forward to full vindication at trial."