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Temecula art gallery owner arrested on cyberstalking charges

Justice SystemCrime, Law and JusticeFBI

The owner of a Riverside County art gallery was arrested Wednesday for allegedly attempting to extort an art publisher and its employees by creating disparaging websites and sending threatening messages demanding money to take them down, federal prosecutors said.

Jason White, 43, who was taken into custody by FBI special agents, faces federal cyberstalking charges and is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office.

Prosecutors said that after a business relationship with White's Temecula art gallery ended, White would post derogatory information about the people and the business online. He allegedly would then demand money from them and harass them through text messages and emails. Prosecutors said when his demands weren't met, he'd threaten violence.

In one instance, White allegedly targeted an art publisher who had previously employed him, sending messages to the publisher, the publisher's son and a supervisor. In one message to his former supervisor, prosecutors said White told her he would make her pay with "fear, anguish and pain." White also is accused of finding pictures of the supervisor's son and sending one of the photos to the woman, saying "it will be very unfortunate if something was to happen to him."

Prosecutors said White posted a message in January on the Facebook page of a prominent artist represented by the art publisher. White posted a photo of himself and said he was targeting the artist's wife and child, saying he'd wait in the bushes to "knee cap a child."

"Your children are my end game," White allegedly wrote.

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rick.rojas@latimes.com

Twitter: @rar

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