Not guilty plea by 4th heist suspect

vpatton@mercedsunstar.comNovember 20, 2012 

— The fourth suspect in the $1.3 million mineral heist at the California State Mining and Mineral Museum on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to attempted burglary and conspiracy charges, according to the Mariposa County district attorney's office.

Christopher Scott Sheffield, 42, entered his plea during a brief arraignment hearing Tuesday morning. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 11. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

The other defendants -- Matthew Campbell, 43, Jonathan Matis, 41, Edward Rushing III, 40, -- pleaded not guilty Monday morning. Campbell, Matis, Rushing and Sheffield were arrested last week after an investigation led by the California Highway Patrol.

Of the four, Matis and Rushing face the most serious charges, including second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. Campbell is charged with attempted burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Authorities say the incident happened Sept. 28, when robbers, dressed in black and wearing hoods, entered the museum's vault about 4 p.m. after threatening a guide and curator with pickaxes.

In the two-minute robbery, the men took gold and gems by smashing display cases. They reportedly tried to take a 14-pound gold mass called the Fricot Nugget, but the alarm went off before they could break the case.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or

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