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FBI reportedly investigating Bitwise Industries as fallout from crash continues

 A colorful mural on the outside of a Bitwise Building in downtown Fresno.
Alex Burke

FRESNO, Calif. – Bitwise Industries continues to face repercussions after it suddenly shuttered operations last month. According to some reports, the tech company is now being investigated at the federal level.

The Fresno Bee reported the FBI has launched a criminal investigation into Bitwise and its leadership. Three anonymous sources told the Bee the FBI has interviewed several people with knowledge of the business and its practices.

While the bureau declined to confirm the investigation to the Bee, it’s reported the agency will be looking into claims of embezzlement.

The Bitwise Board of Directors did not immediately respond to KVPR’s request for comment.

The investigation comes on the heels of multiple lawsuits recently filed against Bitwise,including a class action lawsuitfrom former employees in the Fresno area.

Weeks after the closure and revealing of financial issues for Bitwise, Bakersfield technology company Stria LLC, which is owned by Bitwise, closed its own doors and laid off its entire workforce – 130 people.

Bitwise acquired the successful Bakersfield outsourcing business last August. Stria executive Jim Damian blamed Bitwise for tanking his company, telling the Bakersfield Californian that quote “the people who bought it, ruined it.”

Damian said he hoped to launch a successor company with new backers soon. Though, on Wednesday, Kern County officials announced Damian will be the new Chief Economic Development Officer.

The position helps attract new business and industry to the county. He will begin his new position at the end of July.

Esther Quintanilla reports on diverse communities for KVPR through the Central Valley News Collaborative, which includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, KVPR and Radio Bilingüe.
Joshua Yeager is a Report For America corps reporter covering Kern County for KVPR.