December 2, 2023


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Bitwise Founders Charged with Wire Fraud and Embezzlement

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A Closer Look at the Collapse of a Fresno Tech Company

In a shocking turn of events, the founders of the once-promising Fresno-based technology company Bitwise, Irma Olguin, Jr., and Jake Soberal, have found themselves entangled in a federal complaint, accused of orchestrating a massive financial fraud scheme. The allegations, which involve the misappropriation of over $100 million from various businesses and individuals, have shaken the foundations of the tech community and left over 900 families reeling from the aftermath.

Legal Proceedings and Allegations

The founders, Olguin, Jr. and Soberal, surrendered themselves today, facing charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud. The complaint, filed this week, claims that the duo resorted to a series of deceptive practices to sustain Bitwise’s failing business model. Fabricated bank statements, falsified financial information presented to the board, and the use of non-existent company assets as collateral for loans were among the alleged methods employed to keep the venture afloat. The founders reportedly channeled a significant portion of the embezzled funds towards personal gains, including inflated salaries and extravagant office expenditures.

The Impact on Employees and the Community

Following the abrupt collapse of Bitwise earlier this year, the company’s 900 employees and apprentices were immediately furloughed and later laid off, adding to the distress of the Fresno and Bakersfield communities. The ripple effect of the alleged fraudulent practices has underscored the detrimental impact of white-collar crimes on hardworking individuals and the broader economy.

Authorities’ Response and Pursuit of Justice

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, alongside the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation, has emphasized a commitment to investigate and prosecute financial crimes, signaling a firm stance against fraudulent practices within the corporate world. Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Silva of the Oakland Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation, issued a stern warning to potential fraudulent business owners, affirming the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies in uncovering such misconduct.

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