Rep. Rohrabacher’s ex-campaign treasurer sentenced to year in jail for embezzlement

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A former volunteer campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher who embezzled more than $250,000 from his former employer and the congressman’s reelection committee was ordered Tuesday to serve a year in county jail and five years’ probation and pay back the money.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald decided during a sentencing hearing to spare Jack Wu prison time, saying Wu was having personal problems at the time he embezzled the money, did not have a criminal record and is making restitution.

Wu, 46, of Newport Beach could have faced a maximum of four years and four months in state prison.


As part of a deal with prosecutors, Wu pleaded guilty in January to three felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement, 21 felony counts of forgery with sentencing enhancements for theft exceeding $100,000, aggravated white-collar crime over $100,000 and property loss over $200,000, according to Superior Court records.

Fitzgerald said Wu can apply to serve his jail sentence in home confinement. He is expected to start serving his sentence July 14, according to court records.

Wu could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but his attorney, Paul Meyer, issued an emailed statement late Tuesday.

“We appreciate the careful analysis and extraordinary circumstances that made probation the right call,” Meyer wrote. “Mr. Wu began restitution before the charges were filed and has fully accepted responsibility. He is deeply grateful for the opportunity to make amends.”

In 2004, Wu began working as an unpaid treasurer for the reelection committee for Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). Wu’s duties included paying taxes owed by the committee, filing Federal Election Committee reports, acting as the custodian of records and running the committee’s bank accounts.

Meyer said Wu took over from a professional firm that billed the committee an average of $2,400 per month in an election year and $500 per month plus expenses in non-election years. Had Wu been paid the same rate as the firm, he would have received more than $188,000, Meyer said.

Prosecutors said Wu stole from the campaign partly to help repay a former employer that had fired him amid allegations of stealing money.

From 2008 to 2013, Wu was a controller for Russell Fischer Inc., where he handled accounts receivable, accounts payable and some payroll duties, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Wu was paid a $70,000 salary at Russell Fischer until March 2012, when he became an independent contractor for the company while running his own accounting business, Wubell Services, prosecutors said.

At that point, Wu started receiving $2,000 every two weeks for his work at Russell Fischer but also kept taking his original salary, prosecutors said. In all, authorities said, Wu collected more than $71,000 in unauthorized pay between June 2012 and September 2013.

According to prosecutors, Wu also issued an extra $12,000 in unauthorized payments to his company from Russell Fischer in 2013.

Russell Fischer fired Wu in September 2013 after discovering the $83,000 in unauthorized outlays. Wu agreed to and made restitution payments to Russell Fischer in late 2013 and 2014.

According to authorities, Wu tried to repay at least some of the amount he owed with money from Rohrabacher’s campaign fund.

The campaign committee discovered in May 2015 that $170,000 was missing from the account when a manager tried to use one of the committee’s debit cards and the transaction was denied.

Wu was fired from the campaign, and Rohrabacher’s office released a statement saying Wu had admitted to embezzlement.

Meyer said family medical hardships forced Wu into overwhelming debt and that he began to pay himself without permission.

Wu has run unsuccessfully for several public offices, including the Irvine City Council in 1998, the Irvine Ranch Water District board in 2002 and the Newport Beach City Council in 2006.

Most recently, he was appointed in January 2015 to the Newport Beach Finance Committee, an advisory body to the City Council on budget issues. He resigned from the committee in July that year on the heels of the allegations by Rohrabacher.

Wu also has written freelance political columns for the Daily Pilot, Newport Beach Independent and Orange County Register.

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN


10 a.m. April 26: This article was updated with statements from Paul Meyer.

This article was originally published at 5:35 p.m. April 25.