Longtime Orange County Republican activist and media columnist Jack Wu was sentenced today to a year in county jail after pleading guilty to 21 felony counts of forgery and three felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement. In addition, Wu must pay full restitution and gets five years of probation. He could be out in as little as four months on good behavior, but for Mr. Wu, Orange in the new Black and he’ll likely never work in a capacity that involved handling money ever again.
Wu was a volunteer treasurer for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher since 2004 and also worked for Russell Fishcer since 2008, while managing his own accounting service Wubell Services.
According to the OC DA’s office, from July and August 213, he issued independent contractor checks from Russell Fischer to his firm and took more than $83,000 from Russell Fischer before being fired. He agreed to pay his employer back for the money taken. But in May 2015, the Committee to Re-elect Dana Rohrabacher tried to pay a bill with a credit card only to discover that $170K was missing from the account. Wu took unauthorized funds from the Committee worth $238K and used some of those funds to pay his former employer.
Wu was arrested in February 2016. He had contributed columns to the Daily Pilot and the OC Register and was frequently a panelist at Costa Mesa’s “Feet to the Fire” forums.
As Wu goes to jail — for a short time — we have to wonder about the wisdom of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and his judgment to hire people who break the law. Let’s not forget, the Congressman’s own wife has a criminal record for her work on behalf of Scott Baugh’s assembly campaign dating back more than 20 years.
Updated with statement from Wu’s lawyer Paul Meyer:
Paul S. Meyer, attorney for Jack Wu, stated: “We appreciate the careful analysis and extraordinary circumstances that made probation the right call. Mr. Wu began restitution before the charges were filed, and has fully accepted responsibility. He is deeply grateful for the opportunity to make amends.
Mr. Wu voluntarily took over the treasurer duties for the Rohrabacher Committee from a professional firm in 2004. That earlier firm billed the Committee an average of $2400 per month in an election year and $550 per month plus expenses in an off year. When Mr. Wu took over 11 years ago, he worked without pay. His duties, confirmed by the DA, included paying the taxes, filing federal reports, acting as custodian of records, and managing the Committee’s bank accounts. Were he paid at the same rate as the prior firm, he would have received over $188,000. Tragic family medical hardships forced him into overwhelming debt and he began to pay himself without permission. He confessed, apologized and cooperated. He is deeply grateful for the opportunity to make amends.