The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today in a memo that YouTuber Trevor Jacob, 29, agreed yesterday (May 10) to plead guilty to a felony charge for obstructing a federal investigation. According to the plea agreement with the U.S. States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Jacob admits he deliberately destroyed the wreckage of the airplane he intentionally crashed “to gain online views.” Also according to the DOJ memo, Jacob “had secured a sponsorship from a company that sold various products, including a wallet. Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company’s wallet in a YouTube video that he would post.”
As previously reported, Jacob claimed that the engine of his vintage Taylorcraft quit on Nov. 24, 2021, and he was forced to bail out over hostile terrain. He posted a YouTube video of the incident about a month later that included promotional material for the wallet. Virtually everyone in the aviation community who watched the video immediately cried foul, citing multiple inconsistencies in his story.
Jacob’s pilot certificate was revoked in April 2022. But now, he faces obstruction charges that could result in a federal prison term of as much as 20 years, according to the DOJ memo.
It wasn’t until two days after the crash that Jacob reported it to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which then launched an investigation. NTSB investigators told Jacob he was responsible for preserving the wreckage and he agreed to provide investigators with the exact location of the Taylorcraft and his video footage of the accident from aircraft-mounted cameras and from a camera mounted on a selfie stick that he used to record the parachute jump.
However, according to the memo, Jacob instead lied to NTSB and FAA investigators in the following weeks, saying he didn’t know the location of the crash. And on Dec. 10, 2021, he and a friend removed the wreckage with a helicopter and used Jacob’s truck to tow it to Lompoc City Airport.
According to the DOJ memo, “He then cut up and destroyed the airplane wreckage and, over the course of a few days, deposited the detached parts of the wrecked airplane into trash bins at the airport and elsewhere, which he admitted in his plea agreement was done with the intent to obstruct federal authorities from investigating the November 24 plane crash.”
The memo continued, “Jacob further admitted he lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff. Jacob also lied to an FAA aviation safety inspector when he said the airplane’s engine had quit and, because he could not identify any safe landing options, he had parachuted out of the plane.”
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