Washington man who defrauded hundreds escapes from prison

SEATTLE (AP) – Authorities say a Washington state man who bilked investors out of more than $100 million in a major Ponzi scheme has escaped from a federal prison in central California.

According to The Seattle Times, prison officials say 55-year-old Frederick Berg, formerly of Mercer Island, was discovered missing Wednesday afternoon from a minimum-security work camp next to a penitentiary in Atwater, California.

In 2012, Berg was sentenced to 18 years in prison in federal court in Seattle. He pleaded guilty in 2011 to wire fraud, money laundering and bankruptcy fraud.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release at the time that Berg used investor funds from his company, Meridian Group, to buy Lear jets, yachts and million-dollar homes. He used more than $100 million from over 800 investors to keep his investment fraud scheme going.

He was arrested in 2010 in Los Angeles.