Man accused of defrauding elderly client pleads not guilty to six felonies

Crime Watch
Matthew Gardner covers his face as he stands next to a public defender at his arraignment Tuesday.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A former tax company employee accused of defrauding an elderly woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to six felonies and is being held on more than $1 million bail.

Matthew Steven Gardner, 44, joked with other defendants before his arraignment upon seeing media in the courtroom. “Want to take bets that they’re all here for me?” he asked those sitting near him.

When it was his turn to be formally arraigned, Gardner stood and held a piece of paper to his face to block cameras. Superior Court Judge Colette M. Humphrey set his next hearing for Oct. 31.

Last year, Gardner fled the country — police believe he was in the Ukraine — and told investigators, “Good luck finding me,” according to a court document.

He was arrested last week in Miami, Fla., as he returned to the U.S., police said.

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