Hearing set in Mariposa museum theft case

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comMay 18, 2013 

— One of the five men accused in the robbery of the California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa last year appeared in court Monday.

Christopher Scott Sheffield, 42, was scheduled for arraignment, but the hearing was continued until May 28, according to Mariposa County District Attorney Thomas K. Cooke.

Sheffield is one of two remaining defendants in the robbery case, along with Jonathan Matis, 41.

Matis' next hearing is scheduled for today, Cooke said. He faces eight felony charges: three counts of auto theft, one count of arson, two counts of robbery, one count of burglary and one count of grand theft.

The three others in the case — Michael Anthony Gomes, 43, Matthew Campbell, 43, Edward Rushing III, 40 — have reached plea deals with Mariposa County prosecutors.

The theft happened Sept. 28 when disguised robbers entered the museum's vault about 4 p.m. after threatening a guide and curator with pickaxes.

During the two-minute heist, the robbers stole an estimated $1.3 million in gold and gems after smashing display cases.

According to testimony, the robbers used the pickaxes to try to break the case holding the museum's historic 14-pound Fricot gold nugget.

However, the museum's alarm went off and the vault's doors slammed shut, so the robbers began to strike other cases.

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