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The Feds' message, still up today, asserts that there is probable cause that the site was involved in “money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution.”Federal agents arrested Omuro, 54, along with Annmarie Lanoce, a 41-year-old bespectacled mother from Rocklin, California, a suburb of Sacramento.(Lanoce worked for Omuro, helping to moderate Red Book and manage its operations.) Their homes were raided and their computer equipment confiscated.That resistance is on full display one afternoon this fall when I take a short walk around the neighborhood. “I used to get Red Book reviews, but they took it down.”Omuro started Redbook so that Bay Area mongers would have a home on the web.I count five women standing on various corners, some actively waving at cars, others more carefully making low-key eye contact with male drivers as they cruise by. She wears a black tank top with spaghetti straps, mommish jeans, and a San Francisco Giants sweatshirt tied around her waist. It succeeded, ultimately attracting so many users that the site became a full-fledged business, with massive profits.Launched in 1999 by a Mountain View, California, tech entrepreneur named Eric “Red” Omuro, Red Book began as a modest hub for mongers (Internet slang for johns) to discuss the local scene and post reviews of escorts.As it grew, the site expanded beyond the Bay Area, adding sections for Southern California, the Central Coast, Phoenix, Nevada, and the Pacific Northwest.He ended up sticking around for four years to join what he describes as the intelligent, provocative, and honest conversations on the site's forums. “You could have an open discussion about your beliefs and thoughts.” Boston participated in conversations on Red Book about everything from Libertarian politics to swinger sex parties.
As part of their reviews, users listed the services they received, as well as details about the provider's physical attributes.Both Omuro and Lanoce are due in court in March for sentencing.San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district is bordered by touristy Union Square on one side and tony Nob Hill on another.The site brought in revenue from fees paid by Red Book users for access to the site's enhanced features.
It's unclear why the authorities targeted Red Book and not the array of other sites where sex is openly bought and sold.Released on bond, they were prohibited from going online or associating with former users of the site.