Rohrabacher’s ex-campaign treasurer pleads not guilty to embezzlement
Jack Wu, a former campaign treasurer for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, pleaded not guilty Thursday to grand theft, forgery and other charges in connection with Rohrabacher’s accusation that Wu stole campaign funds.
Wu, a Newport Beach resident, was arrested in February. He is charged with 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 of more than $200,000, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
A pretrial hearing is set for Sept. 21 at the county Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
If convicted, Wu could face a maximum sentence of 20 years and four months in state prison.
Wu was Rohrabacher’s volunteer treasurer for about seven years. Irregularities in the Costa Mesa Republican’s re-election committee funds surfaced last year, when the campaign manager tried to pay a bill with the committee debit card and it was declined. The committee discovered it had only $187 in its bank account and that $170,000 was missing, according to the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors allege Wu stole more than $238,000 from Rohrabacher’s campaign chest.
Wu was accused of using some of the money to pay restitution to a company that fired him, according to the district attorney’s office.
Rohrabacher released a statement last year saying he was “disappointed and dismayed by this betrayal of trust.”
Rohrabacher replaced Wu as treasurer and froze the committee’s bank account, according to Rohrabacher’s attorney, Charles H. Bell Jr.
Previously, Wu started work for Russell Fischer Inc. in 2008 as a controller with a salary of $70,000, the D.A.’s office said. About four years later, he became an independent contractor for Russell Fischer while running his own accounting company, Wubell Services, prosecutors said. His RFI pay was reduced to $2,000 every two weeks.
RFI fired Wu in September 2013 amid allegations that he collected $83,000 in unauthorized payments from the company, the D.A.’s office said. He agreed to make restitution payments to the company for a year, according to prosecutors.
Wu has written columns about local politics for the Daily Pilot, the Newport Beach Independent and the Orange County Register.