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Tipsheet

He Wanted the Views on YouTube. Now, He's Facing 20 Years Behind Bars

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

One YouTube creator went to extreme lengths to get views, and it will cost him. Instead of reaping the revenue from his video that garnered 3 million views, he’s facing 20 years behind bars. Trevor Jacob piloted a single-engine airplane that he claimed in the video was malfunctioning, forcing him to abandon the aircraft, which crashed into a hillside. Jacob recorded the entire event. What was thought to be an accident turned out to be staged. The incident occurred in late November 2021 over Los Padres National Forest in California. Per regulation, Jacobs contacted federal officials about the crash, which later snowballed into the legal calamity he’s facing (via WaPo): 

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Millions of people have since watched Jacob’s footage, titled “I crashed my airplane.” In a plea deal filed this week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, he admitted he planned the whole thing.

…the Justice Department announced that Jacob, 29, would plead guilty to concealing evidence and obstructing a federal investigation by deliberately crashing the plane and hiding the wreckage, as part of a ploy to attract YouTube views. The felony count carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

“Trevor is taking full responsibility for his mistake in judgment; he hopes to move past it and to use his status as a world-class action sports athlete, entrepreneur, and influencer to be a source for good in society,” his attorney, Keri Curtis Axel, said in a statement to The Washington Post. 

Authorities say Jacob’s video of the crash, which has more than 3 million views on his channel, was part of a promotion for a wallet company sponsoring him. In an older version of the video no longer on his channel, he shows off a Ridge wallet before boarding the plane at Lompoc City Airport, in Santa Barbara County. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though the Los Angeles Times reported that a promotional link for Jacob was still active on the company’s website Thursday. 

Two days after the crash, he notified the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency launched an investigation and told Jacob that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage for examination. 

But, the Justice Department said in its release, Jacob had actually hiked to the location of the wreck after crashing the plane and recovered the camera video. 

He lied to investigators in the following weeks, the Justice Department said, claiming that he did not know the location of the wreckage. In fact, he and a friend had lifted the remains of the plane away in a helicopter, towed them back to the airport in Jacob’s pickup truck, then cut them up and disposed of them in trash bins. 

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The publication added the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into the crash led to Jacobs pilot’s license being revoked after finding multiple pieces of evidence that point to him intentionally crashing the airplane. The FAA also noted that Jacobs never contacted air traffic control, attempted to restart the engine, or even land the plane safely. There were multiple areas from which a safe landing could have been attempted. 

An extreme stunt to gain views lands this guy a potential 20-year sentence. You already know the lesson that’s to be gleaned from this fiasco.

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