SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTLA/AP) — A man wanted for his role in an alleged $35 million Ponzi scheme was arrested Monday after evading FBI agents by swimming into California’s largest reservoir using an underwater “sea scooter,” federal prosecutors said.
Matthew Piercey spent nearly 30 minutes in frigid Lake Shasta using the Yamaha 350Li submersible device before he eventually resurfaced and was handcuffed, the Sacramento Bee reported.
When agents went to arrest Piercey, he got into a pickup truck and led them on a chase that ended at the shoreline of the lake north of Redding.
“Then, Piercey abandoned his truck near the edge of Lake Shasta, pulled something out of it, and swam into Lake Shasta,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents calling Piercey a flight risk. “Piercey spent some time out of sight underwater where law enforcement could only see bubbles.”
Agents later learned Piercey had a sea scooter, a motorized device that pull users underwater at speeds of about 4 miles per hour, the Bee reports.
Last week, a grand jury indicted Piercey and his business partner, Kenneth Winton, 67, of Oroville, the Bee reported.
Piercey is accused of bilking investors into giving $35 million to his companies, Family Wealth Legacy and Zolla, promising guaranteed returns using an “Upvesting Fund” that allegedly was an algorithmic trading fund with a history of success, prosecutors said. Piercey allegedly admitted privately to an associate that there was no Upvesting Fund, prosecutors said.
Piercey faces charges including wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, and witness tampering.