Emil Rensing, creator of the Fast Lane Daily YouTube channel and a partner in /DRIVE until it was sold to Time Inc. last year, was arrested by the FBI in New York today on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The news was first reported by Reuters. A federal indictment obtained by Jalopnik reveals Rensing faces the charges on accusations that he defrauded his former employer, the Epix cable movie network, of more than $8 million over the course of five years.
The indictment said that in his capacity as the network’s chief digital officer, Rensing defrauded Epix by getting the network to contract with various vendor companies for services FBI agents claim were never actually performed. The people Rensing listed on the vendor paperwork, often his former business associates, were also allegedly unaware Rensing was using their names in that manner.
The indictment says the bank account for at least one of these vendors was “Emil Rensing International,” an investment firm that at one point owned both part of /DRIVE and Fast Lane Daily. That particular vendor invoiced Epix for nearly $400,000 over the course of about a year, the indictment said.
And when network officials investigated the address listed for that vendor, they found no such business there, but instead “a sign for a particular internet-based video newscast about the automotive industry, which was owned by Rensing.” This, presumably, is Fast Lane Daily, although the indictment doesn’t say so explicitly.
The indictment also alleges Rensing used fake names to conceal his scheme, and in one case listed a personal acquaintance as the “project manager” for one of the vendors when that person had nothing to do with the company. He’s also accused of making false statements to Epix’s lawyers.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Rensing had an attorney. He has not responded to an email seeking comment.
Rensing, 42, worked at Epix from 2010 to August 2015. In 2007, he and other partners formed video producers Next New Networks, which was sold to Google in 2011. He’s also an avid racer.
Rensing was an early investor in /Drive; Forbes has a good primer in his involvement with the channel until its sale to Time Inc., which was a key part of the creation of automotive website The Drive. (Rensing is not involved with The Drive, Fast Lane Daily or /Drive since the sale.)
Few sources who spoke to Jalopnik had anything good to say about Rensing’s business acumen or his treatment of employees. Working with him from 2008 to 2009 at Fast Lane Daily was a “double-edged sword,” said YouTube car impresario Matt Farah. Fast Lane Daily was spun off from Next New Networks before the sale to Google.
“He made me a lot of promises—equity, health insurance, a long-term contract—and never delivered on any of those promises,” Farah said. “And when we got sold to Google, I was kicked to the street with nothing.”
Others were far less kind.
“Emil is the reason the /Drive channel is not a $50 million company today,” said one former associate who asked not to be named. “He sucked the company dry.”
This story has been updated to remove the name of a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.