Six months ago, Jason White was apparently selling himself as a "big wig" in the art business. Now he's facing serious federal charges for cyber-stalking.
"Never in my life would I expect that I would have come across a person like this. I never did never before, and I hope I never do again," said Robert Bane, an art publicist in Beverly Hills.
Bane says he hired Jason White to sell his artists' work at galleries all across the country. But after about three months, he says he realized he'd made a mistake.
"He was not happy, and complaining," said Bane. "He quit, I accepted his resignation. I gave him a little severance pay because I thought it was the right thing to do."
But Bane says it was after White left his business that things spiraled out of control.
"The next thing I knew, he came back to me wanting to extort money from me in the amounts of $375,000," said Bane.
According to the criminal complaint, White not only built fake websites to try to trash Bane's business, but White then started making threats that unless Bane paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars, he would hurt Bane's family.
"It's still frightening when you hear someone threatening your children, it's not a nice thing," said Bane.
But the U.S. Attorney's Office says Bane wasn't the only victim. White also rented space in Temecula for his own art gallery. That's where he allegedly threatened the very people who would display their art inside.
"In those text messages and emails, he threatened to come find them at their homes, find their children, harm their children," said assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Levitt.
"When you look at everything, it's almost like it's a movie, it's actually a movie. It's not real that something like this could have happened," said Bane.
Bane says it's a relief knowing that White was arrested Wednesday morning, making his first appearance in federal court in the evening. His detention hearing was continued to February 18.
If convicted of stalking, White could get five years in federal prison.