LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Temecula art gallery owner was arrested for allegedly stalking fine art dealers in an extortion scheme that involved threats to their children.
The FBI arrested Jason White, 43, of Temecula on cyberstalking charges Wednesday.
A federal complaint charges White with trying to extort hundreds of thousands dollars from a well-known artist and gallery by creating websites under their names.
White used the websites to post claims that his victims sold forgeries, and made other disparaging remarks, according to the U.S. attorney.
"Because the domain names contained the names of victims, White warned that any internet search for the victims' names would turn up White's websites and spread his derogatory statements," the FBI agent wrote in the 28-page affidavit and support for arrest warrant.
White sent allegations of fraud to the art dealer's most prominent clients, and threatened to contact the press and ruin the dealer's reputation, the agent said.
In emails and texts, White allegedly said he would take the websites down only if his victims paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars. When his demands were not met he threatened violence against their families, prosecutors said.
Special Agent Elizabeth Rivas affidavit states that White had targeted a fine art publisher, identified as R.B., apparently referring to Beverly Hills art dealer Robert Bane and his gallery Robert Bane Fine Arts.
The dealer hired White in April 2013 as a salesman but White left somewhat acrimoniously just a few months later. The affidavit says it became apparent that White did not have the fine art connections he touted to get the job.
White then demanded by email a "consulting fee" of $150,000 rising to $300,000 if the dealer did not pay him within three days, the affidavit states. In return, he said he would take down the two websites he had created in the dealer's name.
According to the affidavit, White made multiple demands threats to the dealer and his former supervisor between August 2013 and January 2014.
White allegedly posted an alarming message on the Facebook page of "artist F.P." on Jan. 23.Apparently, Fabian Perez, who exhibits work at Robert Bane Fine Arts.
According to the FBI agent's affidavit, this message stated: "I'VE BEEN TO YOUr[sic] HOUSE BITCH!!!! U [sic] HAVE NO GATE! !! U [sic] ARE A TWERP! !! I AM NOW FOCUSING ON YOUR FUCKING CHILDERN [sic] ! ! !! AND WIFE! ! !! I WILL WAIT IN THE FUCKING BUSHES TO KNEE CAP A CHILD OF THE MAN WHO SLADERS[sic] MY 92 YR OLD GRANDMA!!!! CRY TO ME WHEN YOUR WIFE AND KIDS GET HURT»»»IM[sic] FUCKING COMING BITCH! ! I'-! [sic] [VICTIM A. S. 'S FIRST NAME] WAS JUST TO SHOW YOU! ! !YOUR CHILDREN ARE MY END GAME! ! !! YOU WERE THE GEEK KID! !! 1M THE FUCKING MULTIPLE FELON GANGSTER WHO WANTS TO GET TO THEM!!!! .. I will sell my car...sleep in the park... just to get to your
family!!! gotta [sic] say HI!!! I have a pro flying to silverlake fuck you! !! or fuck the children!!! I will be out there .. the possible deal Ive [sic] been offered
is 5k per kid...FAB!" (Brackets, ellipsis and spelling as in the affidavit.)
Also that day, White allegedly sent another email to "victim artist F.P." According to the affidavit, this message stated, in part: "You can put this on the record and call whatever authorities but I'm coming by you bro [sic] ...and I'm coming by your fami1y...and I may just focus on your kids ... And I'm only going to say a quick hi [sic]. But some words last a lifetime..... I have nothing left to lose... and maybe having a bed every night for the next 30 years in a little 8 X'10 room..... doesn't sound that bad. Knowing I got ur [sic] peeps [sic] for hurting mine.... is worth 100 yrs [sic} in a little room... Please ignore this.... please! Silverlake then straight to bev [sic] blvd [sic].... Fuck you!."
In another alleged extortion scheme, White is accused of targeting an artist identified as J.F.G. and his son, T.G.
According to the affidavit, when the son visited White's gallery in Temecula he found him sleeping at the back of gallery in a sleeping bag. White said he was living in the gallery.
"(O)n one occasion, White refused to open the door for victim T.G., brandished a knife in his hand, and told victim T.G. to leave," the affidavit states.
White allegedly sent harassing messages to T.G., including a photograph of his child, along with the message: "Once this gallery closes all I have to do in my life is take care of [victim T.G.'s minor child] ... And what if I'm willing to do the time!!!" (Brackets in affidavit).
White has a previous conviction for possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor fraud conviction, according to the affidavit.
If convicted of cyberstalking, he faces up to 5 five years in federal prison.
White was to appear Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles Federal Court.
He was investigated by the FBI Art Crime Team.