LOS ANGELES - YouTube influencer Trevor Jacob, who confessed to intentionally destroying the wreckage of a plane he deliberately crashed in Santa Barbara County to gain video views on social media, was sentenced Monday to six months in federal prison, according to the Department of Justice.
Jacob, 30, pleaded guilty in June to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruction a federal investigation. He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
An investigation was conducted on Jacob, who had around 133,000 YouTube subscribers at that time, after he was accused of staging a plane crash so that he could make a video about it for views.
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In the video "I Crashed My Plane" posted in December 2021, Jacob is seen parachuting out of a civilian aircraft — which he said experienced engine failure — while flying over the Los Padres National Forest in California.
Destined for Mammoth Lakes, he never reached his reported destination. Instead, federal officials said he ditched his plane and ejected himself from the aircraft. Before the flight, investigators said he mounted multiple video cameras on the plane and equipped himself with a parachute, video camera and a selfie stick.
"Jacob is an experienced pilot, skydiver and former Olympic athlete who had secured a sponsorship from a company that sold various products, including a wallet. Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company’s wallet in a YouTube video that he would post," the DOJ said in a statement.
In an Emergency Order of Revocation letter to Jacob dated April 11, the FAA said in part, "You demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft solely so you could record the footage of the crash."
The FAA said in the letter that it seemed strange that Jacob was wearing a parachute in the first place.
In its letter to Jacob, the FAA added, "During this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed."
According to the investigation, Jacob made no attempt to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency, did not attempt restarting the engine, and did not look for a place to land, "even though there were multiple areas within gliding range in which you could have made a safe landing," the agency said.
Officials said Jacob and a friend flew to the site to collect the wreckage and later loaded it onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck. Federal investigators said he then took the wreckage to the Lompoc City Airport where he cut up, destroyed, and threw the evidence into trash bins over the course of a few days, "which he admitted in his plea agreement was done with the intent to construct federal authorities from investigation the November 24 plane crash."
The video, which was posted on Dec. 23, 2021 and had garnered 3.2 million views on YouTube when he pleaded guilty in May of this year, has since been taken down and is currently listed as a "private video."