Trevor Jacob pleaded guilty on June 30 to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation
YouTuber and former Olympian Trevor Jacob has been sentenced to six months in prison after admitting he intentionally crashed his plane to "gain online views."
The 30-year-old California man deliberately downed his plane while filming the stunt in Santa Barbara County on Nov. 24, 2021, according to a news release from the Department of Justice, published Monday. He then hid the evidence from investigators.
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said the Lompoc man “most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain.”
"Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company’s wallet in a YouTube video that he would post," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
“It appears that [Jacob] exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense,” they said, adding that this daredevil-style conduct “cannot be tolerated.”
Jacob set up numerous cameras inside the plane before taking to the skies, according to the DOJ. He then took off from Lompoc City Airport, purportedly for a trip to Mammoth Lakes.
Instead, Jacob intentionally crashed the plane, which landed in a dry brush area in Los Padres National Forest. TheYouTuber also filmed himself parachuting to the ground after being ejected from the plane.
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Upon landing, Jacob hiked over to the wreck “and recovered the data containing the video recording of his flight and the crash of the airplane," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in Monday's release.
On Dec. 23, Jacob posted a video named “I Crashed My Airplane” that showed him “parachuting from the plane and the aircraft’s subsequent crash," per the release. It also “contained a promotion of the wallet” that Jacob intended to profit from. The video has since been removed from YouTube.
In an aircraft accident incident report, Jacob “falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff,” according to Monday’s news release. He offered a similar story to a safety inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well.
For weeks, Jacob told investigators he did not know where the wreckage was located. In reality, prosecutors said the YouTuber had returned to the crash site to remove the plane’s remains, and later discarded the evidence.
On Dec. 10, Jacob and a friend flew via helicopter to the wreckage site, picked up the aircraft’s remains, and carried them to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, according to the DOJ.
Jacob then “drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport and unloaded it in a hangar,” where he “cut up and destroyed” the evidence. Over the next few days, he “deposited the detached parts of the wrecked airplane into trash bins” both at the airport and elsewhere.
The FAA revoked Jacob’s pilot license in April 2022. More than a year later, he pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation, which carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
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