PLEASANTON -- A former commander in the Pinole Police Department and his wife have been charged with trying to defraud an 82-year-old Pleasanton woman, police said Friday.

Matthew Messier, 36, of Pleasanton, was charged with several crimes, including four counts of elder abuse. Pleasanton police said Messier and his wife, 30-year-old Elizabeth Regalado, tried to defraud the victim by placing her entire estate into a trust they controlled.

Police arrested Messier at his home Friday but are still trying to locate Regalado. Messier remains at Santa Rita Jail on $322,500 bail.

Messier also was charged with three counts of attempted grand theft, two counts of registering a fraudulent document, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of practicing law without a license. Regalado has been charged with one count of criminal conspiracy.

Police said the investigation began in July when Messier was still serving as a commander with the Pinole police. Pinole police Chief John Hardester said Messier, who had been with the department since 2001, resigned his position Oct. 23 but declined further comment.

According to police, Messier used his position within the department to gain the victim's trust, after which the victim put her entire estate into a trust fund controlled by Messier and Regalado.


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"There was no real smoking gun. This is a case of detectives sifting through mounds of documents," Pleasanton police Sgt. Kurt Schlehuber said. "It's a paperwork case."

Messier was perhaps best known in the department for his work on a double-homicide in 2005 that stemmed from a deep-rooted war between rival gang members.

He also was a popular figure within the Pinole Historical Society. Messier gave two presentations to the group on the city's police history "and drew very large crowds both times," historical society vice president Jeff Rubin said.

Messier also collected memorabilia and artifacts related to the department's history, some of which are on display at the Pinole Library.

"Other than his involvement with the historical society, I didn't really know him well," Rubin said. "I had an idea something was up, because he just sort of disappeared (from the historical scene) without warning."

Anyone with information about Regalado's whereabouts or the case can contact Pleasanton police at 925-931-5100 and reference Case 12-26567.

Rick Hurd covers breaking news. Contact him at 925-945-4780 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.