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Man accused of Ponzi scheme attempts to escape FBI with underwater scooter

A man wanted for his alleged involvement in a Ponzi scheme hid underwater with a submersible device in a cold California reservoir as authorities tried to apprehend him Monday, remaining submerged for about 25 minutes before finally resurfacing and being arrested.

Matthew Piercey temporarily evaded FBI agents as they came to arrest him for his alleged participation in a $35 million investment fraud scheme scheme that took place over the course of about five years. After leading officials on a chase that ended at Lake Shasta, Piercy pulled a Yamaha 350Li submersible device out of his truck and took to the waters. The FBI was able to track Piercey via bubbles, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Piercey used the sea scooter, which can go down to 130 feet and move at a speed of 3.7 mph, to move around while submerged. Upon resurfacing, he was evaluated for hypothermia, allowed to put on dry clothes and then promptly arrested on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. The indictment was unsealed Monday following his arrest, according to court documents.

Piercey’s partner Kenneth Winton was also charged over his role in the scheme with criminal information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Attorney Adam Gasner of San Francisco, who is reportedly Winton’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. It’s unclear if Piercey has legal representation.

“You know, you never know what is going through someone’s mind when they’re being pursued by the FBI,” said Attorney Josh Kons, who represents some of the alleged Ponzi scheme’s victims, according to CBS Sacramento. “And we kept investigating, and all of a sudden today, here he is trying to escape into a lake, using a submersible device.”

CBS Sacramento reports that Piercey remains in custody in a Sacramento County jail with no bail, as he’s considered a flight risk.

Piercey is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. Winton is scheduled for his initial court appearance Thursday.

Tags FBI Matthew Piercey Ponzi scheme

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