Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
State, Federal Lawmakers Call for Criminal Bitwise Investigation
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 10 months ago on
June 8, 2023

Share

State and federal lawmakers are calling for criminal investigations into Bitwise Industries.

The tech and real estate company based in Fresno furloughed all its workers on May 29. A lawsuit filed in Fresno County Superior Court on Wednesday alleges that they were effectively laid off.

Read all of GV Wire’s Bitwise coverage at this link.

The lawsuit accused Bitwise of violating state law for not giving advance warning of the firings, and breaking the law by not issuing paychecks correctly — several employees said the checks bounced.

“My office has contacted the Office of the California Department of Justice on this matter. Given the allegations and information that has come to light thus far, we need to thoroughly investigate all questionable and illegal business practices, and hold those accountable for causing this calamity,” state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Bakersfield, said.

Reporting from GV Wire shows that before he was terminated by the company’s board, Bitwise co-CEO Jake Soberal reached out to potential hard money lenders in the community, possibly exaggerating influxes of cash the company was about to receive.

Public records also show that Bitwise is late in paying its Fresno County property taxes, city business taxes, and business taxes in Delaware, where it is incorporated. Bitwise also has several liens from lenders, including 13 million shares in the company owned by Soberal and former co-CEO Irma Holguin Jr., according to California public records.

Costa, Duarte Call for Investigations

Reps. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, and John Duarte, R-Modesto, are also calling for action.

“The situation with Bitwise is concerning and should be looked into,” Costa said. “I am monitoring the news and awaiting any legal outcome to determine what actions we might engage in. My first concern is for the workers left without jobs, putting their livelihoods at risk. At this time, we are working to connect those affected with the appropriate federal agencies to get the support they need.”

Employees also alleged that Bitwise collected health care and retirement funds from paychecks, but never deposited them in the appropriate accounts.

“The claims surrounding misconduct at Bitwise Industries are concerning, to say the least,” said Duarte. “I encourage federal authorities to take a hard look at these troubling allegations.”

Lawmakers Offer Help

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, would not comment on whether he supports a criminal investigation. He did say he has support services available.

“What happened at Bitwise was a shock to everyone. I am saddened and upset for the employees who were furloughed and whose lives — and their families’ lives — were turned upside down. Right now, my focus is on them. My office already has been helping people who need unemployment assistance or have other questions about state resources, and we will continue to help these employees where we can,” Arambula said.

Hurtado and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, say they can help disaffected Bitwise employees with unemployment benefits.

The Fresno Workforce Development Board is offering workshops on Friday to help former employees to navigate public benefits.

The city of Fresno will hold a job fair geared toward Bitwise employees on June 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No Comment from Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies are not willing to talk about potential investigations.

“To protect its integrity, we’re unable to comment on, even to confirm or deny, a potential or ongoing investigation,” a spokesperson for state Attorney General Rob Bonta said.

After the publication of this story, a spokeswoman for Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said they “will continue to review police agency investigations submitted for crime charging decisions.

“To the extent that we receive any requests for charges related to the recent news surrounding Bitwise, we will apply our standard case review and evaluation process. We cannot speak to the status, if any, of any ongoing investigation by any police or investigatory agency,” Smittcamp’s office said.”

A spokeswoman from the federal Department of Justice issued a similar statement.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

DON'T MISS

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

DON'T MISS

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

DON'T MISS

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

DON'T MISS

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

DON'T MISS

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

DON'T MISS

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

DON'T MISS

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

DON'T MISS

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

DON'T MISS

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

UP NEXT

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

UP NEXT

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Slightly as Outlook for Inflation Worsens

UP NEXT

Fresno Monopoly is Coming. You Have a Chance to Make It Your Own.

UP NEXT

After Fong Ruling, a ‘Bitter Pill to Swallow’ for US Senate Losers Katie Porter & Barbara Lee?

UP NEXT

Fresno’s ‘Rods on the Bluff’ Is Driven by Friendship, Creativity, and Achievement

UP NEXT

Buyer Resistance Grows as EV Ownership Rises: Poll

UP NEXT

This Chill Tabby Cat Loves Hanging Out With People. Is He Your ‘Purrfect’ Match?

UP NEXT

Legendary Comedians Seinfeld and Carolla Lead Fresno Entertainment Lineup

UP NEXT

Fresno’s Marjaree Mason Center Secures $850K Federal Funding Boost for New Resource Center

UP NEXT

Pistachio Growers Banking on World Famous Chef to Grow Their Markets

David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

12 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

24 hours ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

1 day ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

1 day ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

1 day ago

Reacher Star Alan Ritchson Calls Donald Trump a ‘Rapist’

1 day ago

Community Leaders Call for Transparency in Fresno Superintendent Search

1 day ago

Israeli Settlers Rampage Through a West Bank Village, Killing 1 Palestinian and Wounding 25

1 day ago

US Intelligence Finding Shows China Surging Equipment Sales to Russia to Help War Effort in Ukraine

1 day ago

From Tragedy to Triumph: The Land Before Time Litter’s Journey

1 day ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

When Sacramento changed its plan to demolish a homeless encampment on a vacant lot on Colfax Street, instead offering the homeless occupants...

10 hours ago

10 hours ago

Sacramento Gave Homeless Camp a Lease as an Experiment. Here’s What Happened.

11 hours ago

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

12 hours ago

Teacher Appreciation Week Surprises That Educators Will Love

12 hours ago

A Mission of Mercy, Then a Fatal Strike: How an Aid Convoy in Gaza Became Israel’s Target

24 hours ago

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

1 day ago

California Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life for Fatal Freeway Shooting of 6-Year-Old Boy

1 day ago

16 Clovis Students Rewarded With Scholarships for Their Resilience

1 day ago

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend