Serial evader sentenced to 4 years, 4 months |

Serial evader sentenced to 4 years, 4 months

By Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

A Nevada County man who eluded capture after a six-hour pursuit in January was sentenced Friday on that case and several others after taking a plea agreement that netted him a combined prison sentence of four years and four months.

John Wenzel Niece, 46, was facing multiple charges including assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, and reckless evasion of a peace officer stemming from four separate cases over the last three years, as well as for violating post-release community supervision.

One of those cases — a Jan. 24, 2018, arrest in Grass Valley, in which he allegedly punched a police officer in the nose — was dismissed.

On Nov. 16, 2019, a Yuba County deputy on patrol at Bullards Bar approached a parked Tahoe occupied by Niece. Niece started the vehicle and accelerated, pinning the Yuba County deputy briefly against his patrol vehicle. The deputy was uninjured and tried to pursue the Tahoe, losing it near North San Juan, authorities have said.

In that case, Niece on Oct. 10 pleaded no contest to resisting arrest.

Niece then evaded a Nevada County sheriff’s deputy who tried to stop his vehicle later that day. In that case, he pleaded no contest to reckless evasion of a peace officer.

Then, on Jan. 10, a California Highway Patrol officer spotted a Chevrolet Tahoe with expired registration tabs at Highway 20 and Idaho Maryland Road. The driver, identified as Niece, failed to yield on an attempted traffic stop and instead fled up Idaho Maryland Road.

Authorities have said the Tahoe was pursued onto Banner Lava Cap Road, then down Red Dog Cross Road to Greenhorn Creek. The Tahoe ended up crossing the creek and heading up Chalk Bluff Road, where the pursuit was taken over by a CHP helicopter and a fixed-wing plane. Niece eventually abandoned the Tahoe and fled on foot, and the search was called off. Niece was spotted walking down the road in Cascade Shores two days later and tried to flee from deputies on foot before being taken into custody, reports state.

In that case, Niece pleaded no contest to another charge of reckless evasion, as well as to the violation of post-release community supervision on a 2017 case.

During Friday’s hearing in Nevada County Superior Court, Niece thanked Judge Robert Tice-Raskin and apologized “for taking up everybody’s time” and for running from officers.

“I’m a pretty simple man,” Niece said, adding, “I respect the law.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

John Niece

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