Former legislative candidate, 19, pleads guilty in crime ring case

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 7, 2011, 6:31 PM

 

A teenage former candidate for the state Legislature who ran on a platform of conservative values pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to his role in an organized crime ring.

Anthony Bittner, who ran in the August 2010 primary election for now-Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler’s open 18th District House seat, admitted to attempted residential burglary and second-degree possession of stolen property.

Bittner, 19, will be sentenced Sept. 29.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said the crimes carry a standard sentencing range of between four-and-a-half months and nine months in jail.

Bittner is among at least three teenagers whom prosecutors say were enlisted by a Young Life leader, Jorgan Cattin, to commit property crimes throughout Clark County last September. Cattin is charged with leading organized crime, a class A felony. He goes on trial Sept. 12.

Bittner initially was charged with six crimes, including manufacture of a controlled substance (marijuana) and trafficking stolen property. As part of Bittner’s plea bargain, the 2010 Skyview High School graduate agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against Cattin.

Through attorneys Steven Myers and Tom Phelan, Bittner admitted his role Thursday to Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson. He said he and others conspired to burglarize a home in Battle Ground on Sept. 14 and that he took part “by driving to and waiting outside” the house.

According to court documents, a victim said she saw several males wearing masks in her home who fled when they were confronted. Deputies traced the license plate number of the getaway car, a Subaru Forester, to the mother of one of Bittner’s roommates, Nathan Combs.

After serving a search warrant at Bittner’s apartment in the 13700 block of Northwest Second Avenue, deputies said they found six counterfeit $100 bills, drug paraphernalia and numerous stolen items, according to court documents.

Bittner also confessed before the judge to “knowingly” possessing a stolen trailer from a Ridgefield Boy Scout troop.

Deputies said they connected Bittner and several other defendants to the theft of the trailer following the September attempted burglary. On July 24, the trailer was found empty in a parking lot in downtown Vancouver, more than two weeks after the alleged theft. Detectives said they subsequently found the missing camping gear in the apartment that Bittner shared with friends.

Bittner’s arrest came a month after the teenager was winding down his campaign for the House of Representatives. The Republican finished last in a seven-way primary race, attracting 575 votes.

Bittner is on supervised release from jail and is supposed to be living with his parents.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; Twitter: Col_Courts; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.