(LOS ANGELES) — YouTuber Trevor Jacob has agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into a 2021 plane crash in California that the Federal Aviation Administration has claimed the pilot purposely caused, court documents show.
The charge — destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation — carries up to a 20-year prison sentence. A plea agreement was filed on Wednesday, court records show. Jacob is expected to make his initial court appearance in a few weeks.
The crash occurred in November 2021 while Jacob flew over Los Padres National Forest. Jacob posted a 12-minute video of the crash to his YouTube channel that has received nearly 3 million views, according to the video’s YouTube page.
Prosecutors claim that Jacob never planned on reaching his destination and that the plan was always to crash the plane, and that he lied to federal investigators about not knowing the crash location. Prosecutors claim he flew in a helicopter and hoisted the wreckage out of the remote area, then dismantled the aircraft with the goal of obstructing an investigation.
Jacob was also accused of lying to the FAA, which revoked his pilot’s license last year over the crash.
“I did not jump out of my plane for views,” Jacob told ABC News at the time.
Jacob’s attorney, Keri Curtis Axel, told ABC News they have no comment at this time.
In an April 2022 letter to Jacob regarding surrendering his private pilot’s license, the FAA said the flight was “careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another.”
Jacob attached multiple cameras to the inside and outside of the plane and was wearing a sports parachute in a backpack during the flight, according to the FAA letter. The FAA claims Jacob opened the side door of the plane claiming the engine had failed.
The FAA noted that Jacob did not attempt to restart the engine, contact air traffic controllers about the problem or look for areas to land safely. The FAA said Jacob then jumped from the plane “while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick.”
Also in the video, Jacob goes to the plane’s wreckage and retrieves the cameras that were attached to the plane.
In the plea agreement, prosecutors claim that Jacob contacted a company to help him retrieve his plane, and that he and a friend flew in a helicopter to the crash site in the weeks following the incident and retrieved the wreckage. Jacob later reportedly told investigators that he was not aware of the plane’s wreckage location, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that Jacob and his friend drove the wreckage to an airport and cut up and destroyed it “with the intent to impede and obstruct federal authorities,” the plea agreement stated.
Prosecutors also claim that Jacob falsely told the FAA that the plane’s engine had quit “in order to conceal the fact that he had purposefully abandoned his airplane in flight as part of his scheme to create a video to gain notoriety and to make money,” the plea agreement stated.
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