Advertisement
California

Conservative provocateur Jacob Wohl charged with financial crime in Riverside County

 Jacob Wohl, right, and his attorney Jack Burkman
Jacob Wohl, right, and his attorney Jack Burkman speak to the media in 2018.
(John Middlebrook / Associated Press )

Jacob Wohl, a conservative provocateur who once lobbed bogus claims of sexual assault against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, appeared in court in Riverside County on Wednesday after it was revealed that prosecutors had issued a warrant for his arrest on a felony financial crime, officials said.

Wohl, 21, of Corona, faces one count of violating the California Corporations Code by selling an unregistered security, according to court documents released by the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

A warrant for Wohl’s arrest, first reported by the Daily Beast, was issued Aug. 19. Wohl made a brief court appearance Wednesday and is due back for an arraignment in October, said John Hall, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

Wohl was released on his own recognizance and the arrest warrant was quashed, according to his father, David, a Riverside-based attorney who has appeared as a campaign surrogate for President Trump. David Wohl, who is representing his son, said neither he nor Jacob was aware of the allegation before the Daily Beast published its report.

Advertisement

David Wohl also expressed frustration that prosecutors did not attempt to interview his son and questioned whether the district attorney’s office rushed to file because the statute of limitations on the charges was running out.

Prosecutors alleged that in summer 2016, Wohl and his business partner, 30-year-old Matthew Johnson, illegally tried to sell an unregistered security.

The statute of limitations on that charge is three years it and would have expired in late August.

Attempts to contact Johnson were unsuccessful.

Advertisement

In June 2016, Riverside County prosecutors received a complaint from an Arizona resident that he had invested $75,000 with Wohl and Johnson through a company they owned, Wohl Capital Investment Group. The Arizona resident reported losing the money, an undercover investigator with the district attorney’s office said in a court filing.

That July, the undercover investigator posed as a real estate agent whose client wanted to invest money with Wohl and Johnson’s new company, Montgomery Assets, according to the court filing.

Over the next several weeks, the investigator and another undercover detective, who posed as the client, had multiple conversations with Wohl and Johnson.

Eventually, prosecutors allege, Johnson provided a document to the undercover investigators indicating the client would invest $100,000 in a one-year note that would give a 17% rate of return, and Johnson said that the invested money “would be used for the purchase and flipping of residential property,” according to the court filing.

“Based on my training and experience, this appeared to be an offer to sell a security,” the investigator wrote in an arrest declaration. And, he wrote, Wohl’s company had not filed the necessary registration or exemption documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other oversight groups that would have allowed the sale of such a security.

Communications between the investigator, Wohl and Johnson ceased in late August 2016. The next month, the Arizona Corporation Commission “filed a temporary order to cease and desist” against Wohl, Johnson and Montgomery Assets, according to the filing.

Johnson and Wohl consented to fines and penalties assessed by the Arizona Corporation Commission later that year, according to the filing.

David Wohl said Wednesday that if Riverside prosecutors had talked to his son, Jacob “could have offered them input into these allegations that I fully believe would have led to them not filing the case.”

Advertisement

Jacob Wohl gained notoriety in 2018 when he allied himself with Jack Burkman, a lawyer and conservative conspiracy theorist, in an attempt to smear Mueller with allegations of sexual impropriety. Mueller was still investigating whether the Trump campaign had conspired with Russian operatives to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Wohl and Burkman provided minimal evidence for the allegations during a bizarre, rambling news conference, and Mueller quickly asked the FBI to review the claims.

The woman whom Wohl described as the accuser against Mueller told USA Today this year that no such assault had occurred and said Wohl approached her under a false identity.

Times staff writer Colleen Shalby contributed to this report.


Newsletter
Get our Essential California newsletter
Advertisement