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SHASTA COUNTY, Calif. – On Tuesday, 44-year-old Matthew Piercy of Palo Cedro was arraigned in Sacramento. Piercy is currently being held in a Sacramento jail. Another status hearing is set for next month.
On Monday, authorities arrested Piercy after he led authorities on a chase that ended in Lake Shasta.
According to court documents, the Palo Cedro man attempted to evade investigators by using a Yamaha 350 LI, a submersible device. After about 25 minutes, investigators say Piercy emerged from the water, and that’s when law enforcement was able to make the arrest.
People tell Action News Now that Piercy’s attempted escape was a crazy one.
“The story was kind of crazy,” said Yari Dewalt of Shingletown. “He's trying to get away on a scooter type thing and then he's just underneath the water.”
“I thought it was kind of stupid but kind of funny when you hear about it. I mean, [the authorities] are just going to wait above the water.
The Department of Justice says that Piercy and 67-year-old Kenneth Winton of Oroville are charged in a $35 million Ponzi scheme.
Piercy is charged with witness tampering, money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud. If convicted, the 44-year-old could face 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Winton is has been charged separately with conspiracy to commit fraud. He is set to appear in court on November 19.
People tell Action News Now because of the scheme, it’s more important now to pay attention to where your money goes.
“These are not uncommon and certain people prey upon people's trust,” said Michael Cogan of Redding. “If it's something's too good, it usually not true.”
Action News Now also reached out to Bethel Church. The church confirmed that Piercy and his family did attend the church for the past few years, but is not an official member.