Court documents shed light on drug, theft allegations against Bittner

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Document details case against Bittner, Cattin

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In mid-September, suspected organized crime participant Anthony Bittner received a phone call from his roommate Nathan J. Combs, who was in the Clark County Jail.

Bittner, an 18-year-old state Legislative candidate who a month earlier had lost a primary election, asked Combs whether he had been questioned by detectives, according to court documents filed Friday.

“No, I haven’t said (expletive),” Combs replied.

“What’s going on, that’s so weird,” said Bittner, who had been recently released from jail.

“(Another friend) turned over, I’m pretty sure,” Combs said.

“We just got to be careful, this stuff’s monitored,” Bittner told his friend. “There’s probably some douche detective listening to us right now.”

Jail calls are monitored, a fact well-publicized both to inmates and people on the other end of the line.

The court documents filed Friday afternoon by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Alan Harvey shed some new light on the allegations made against Bittner and his friends, including the fact that Bittner met Jorgan E. Cattin, 24, who’s accused of leading the organized crime ring, through Young Life, a Christian organization.

Cattin, co-owner of the Good Pizza Company in Salmon Creek, was Bittner’s Young Life leader, and later allowed Bittner and Combs to eat free pizza and smoke marijuana at the restaurant, 14200 N.E. 20th Ave.

According to a probable cause affidavit written by Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Sofianos, Cattin supplied Bittner and Combs with “‘shrooms” and Bittner and Combs used them after graduating from high school in June. Cattin also directed Bittner and Combs to prowl vehicles and then bring him the stolen goods — iPods, GPS units, digital cameras, wakeboards, golf clubs and MP3 players — which Cattin would sell online, Sofianos wrote.

On Friday morning, Bittner pleaded not guilty in Clark County Superior Court to several felony charges.

Defense attorney Tom Phelan told Judge John Nichols that Bittner understood the charges and didn’t need them read aloud. Phelan entered the not-guilty pleas on Bittner’s behalf.

Bittner ran as a Republican for Jamie Herrera’s open 18th District House seat. He finished last among seven candidates in August’s primary, drawing 575 votes.

The 2010 Skyview High School graduate now faces two felony cases.

Trial was set for Nov. 15 on one count of residential burglary. On Sept. 14, a resident reported seeing masked men in her home and was able to get the license plate of one of the two getaway vehicles. It was traced to Combs, 18, who roomed with Bittner and Cattin.

Surveillance video from a gas station on the day of the burglary showed one of the suspects removing an “Anthony Bittner for State Rep.” sticker from Combs’ Subaru.

A search warrant executed on the trio’s apartment led to more criminal charges, as deputies allegedly found marijuana plants and stolen goods including camping equipment that had been taken from a Ridgefield Boy Scout troop on July 7.

Trial was set for Nov. 22 on five charges: manufacturing a controlled substance (marijuana); maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substance; two counts of trafficking in stolen property; and second-degree possession of stolen property.

Bittner’s co-defendants pleaded not guilty earlier this week and are set to go to trial in November with Bittner.

Cattin faces an additional charge of leading organized crime.

None of the defendants are in custody.

After his arrest, Bittner was released to live with his parents.

Harvey said he could not speculate on how long a sentence Bittner faces if convicted on all charges.

But if convicted, Bittner would go to prison, Harvey said.

Federal charges remain a possibility, Harvey added.

Harvey said deputies are still searching for Samuel Poitras as a person of interest in the burglary. Anyone with information should call 360-397-2211, ext. 3362.