California man admits blackmailing Whitefish businessman

by Whitefish Pilot
| May 11, 2020 9:42 AM

A California man accused of threatening to blackmail a Whitefish businessman admitted his guilt Thursday in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

According to U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme, Bryan Gregg Waterfield Nash, 56, of Woodside, California, pleaded guilty to blackmail. Nash faces a maximum one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and one year of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided and continued Nash’s release pending further proceedings. Sentencing is set for Aug 7.

Nash was initially charged with stalking and extortion in the case that involved a wealthy investor from Whitefish who is referred to as “Businessman 1” in the court document. Nash pleaded not guilty to the charges in August.

In documents filed in the case, the prosecution claimed the blackmail began in December 2013 and ran until about June 2019 in Whitefish and in northern California. Nash knew the victim for many years. Beginning in about December 2013, Nash frequently communicated with the victim in person and electronically, and with his family, friends and colleagues.

Many of Nash’s communications demanded money from the victim, and he also accused the victim of committing federal crimes. Nash alleged the victim could be investigated by the IRS for tax fraud. In a text message sent in April 2016, Nash told the victim: “This brings all your IRS stuff to the public eye even more. This will be huge news. You were scamming the IRS.”

During the same time period Nash was accusing the victim of breaking federal law, he repeatedly asked for financial assistance.

When the victim stopped responding to communications from Nash, Nash intensified communications with the victim’s family, friends, employees and privately retained lawyers. Many of the messages referenced the victim being investigated by the IRS or FBI, and Nash repeatedly asked to meet with the victim’s lawyers to “settle” with the victim.

Nash’s requests to settle with the victim were in consideration of not filing a civil complaint against the victim or reporting his alleged criminal transgression to law enforcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Racicot and Ryan Weldon are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.