Man who taunted police pleads no contest to defrauding elderly woman

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man who fled the country and taunted police after being accused of defrauding an elderly woman has accepted a plea agreement.

Matthew Steven Gardner, 44, pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges of theft or embezzlement from an elder adult and grand theft of property, according to court records. Four other felonies were dismissed under the agreement.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 24.

In 2018, Gardner fled the country — police believe he was in the Ukraine — and told investigators, “Good luck finding me,” according to a court document.

Police said Gardner, while employed at a local tax company, gained the trust of a client who he later defrauded.

He was arrested in October in Miami, Fla., as he returned to the U.S., and was transported to Bakersfield.

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