Those of us living in California are more than used to the nightly car chases by police but this one caught our attention. A car chase that started in Redding, California, ended with the suspect pulling a Seascooter out of his pickup and diving into Lake Shasta with it. Prosecutors say that once underwater the suspect could only be detected from the bubbles popping on the surface of the lake.
The FBI says Matthew Piercey of Palo, Cedro, California, chased him after finding he had 31 felony counts over a $35 million investment scheme. The car chase began in a residential section of Redding before Piercey got on Interstate 5. He fled to the water’s edge of Lake Shasta before stopping and retrieving a Yamaha 350Li Seascooter from the bed.
Piercey jumped into the lake with the Seascooter and vanished under the water
Piercey jumped into the lake with the Seascooter and immediately vanished under the water. These Seascooters can travel up to almost four miles per hour underwater. They sell for about $1,200. Agents were able to track him by following the bubbles on the surface of the lake.
He was underwater for a half-hour before popping out of the water where he was immediately arrested. Piercey was detained while medical personnel checked him due to the frigid temperatures of the lake. His wife supplied dry clothes for him according to the Los Angeles Times.
The investment scheme involved soliciting $35 million from investors
His investment scheme involved soliciting $35 million from investors for what was called an “upvesting fund.” This was done with business partner Kenneth Winton. Upvesting involves European financial institutions offering securities with the advantage of application programming interfaces, or APIs. Those, in turn, are computer interfaces that allow for instant financial information.
It is unclear how the upvesting fund scheme was arranged. About $8 million of the $35 million was returned to investors. The rest of the money had been spent by the suspects on purchasing two properties, buying a boat, paying off credit cards, and other purchases.
Both suspects could face 20 years in prison and fines
The charges against Piercey also include mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and witness tampering. Both suspects could face 20 years in prison and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors easily used the car chase escapade as evidence of Piercey being a flight risk.
“Although Piercey did stay in the Eastern District of California since learning about this investigation … circumstances have changed, as demonstrated by his behavior when law enforcement attempted to arrest him this morning,” prosecutors told the Times. He remains in jail awaiting his trial.
Besides the lesson that crime doesn’t pay, this also shows that if you think a Seascooter will cover your trail it won’t. Among many other lessons.