Crime ring leader gets 4 years in prison

Group included former legislative candidate

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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Former pizza shop owner Jorgan E. Cattin was sentenced Wednesday to fours years in prison for organizing and operating a crime ring made up of Skyview High School students.

The 26-year-old Battle Ground resident received the harshest sentence among his six co-defendants in the crime ring, due partly to his leadership role in the ring, as well as a plea bargain the others made to avoid prison.

The sentence was part of a stipulated agreement between the defense and prosecution to avoid the possibility of a longer prison term. Cattin and his co-defendants also will be required to pay restitution. The amount has not yet been determined.

Cattin pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to five counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen property and money laundering.

Sentencing was delayed until Wednesday so Cattin could get his affairs in order and attend his grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary celebration, which was set for the weekend after his guilty plea.

Prosecutors said that between July and September 2010, Cattin enlisted the students to commit car prowls and thefts. The gang sold the loot, including iPods, GPS units, digital cameras, wakeboards, golf clubs and MP3 players, on websites including Craigslist and eBay.

Cattin's ultimate vision, according to prosecutors, was to use the proceeds to buy a house, where the criminals could start a marijuana-growing operation.

That plan was dashed when Clark County sheriff's deputies uncovered the crime ring. The number of victims is unknown, but one of the most notable was a Ridgefield Boy Scout troop from which the group stole a trailer full of camping gear.

The ring included seven defendants, including former legislative candidate Anthony Bittner. Bittner ran as a Republican for an open 18th District House seat and finished last in a seven-way primary.

Cattin said Wednesday that Bittner's leadership role in the ring was downplayed, suggesting he was not the only mastermind of the rash of property crimes.

The two met when Cattin was a volunteer at the Young Life Christian organization. Some of the other co-defendants worked for Cattin at his business, Good Pizza Co. in Salmon Creek. Co-defendant Andrew Preinesberger owned the business with Cattin.

Bittner was sentenced Nov. 1 to 45 days on work release for his role in the crime ring. He avoided a prison term by agreeing to cooperate in prosecutors' case against Cattin. The others -- Preinesberger, Nathan Combs, Joel Barker and Jeff Garlington -- were sentenced Nov. 1 to county work crews. Suspect Samuel Poitras remains wanted on a warrant.

Nine of Cattin's family members and friends sat in the courtroom Wednesday to show support for the convicted felon, and five letters and emails were sent to Judge Barbara Johnson on Cattin's behalf.

Johnson said it was unusual for defendants to have such a showing of support.

"You have shown qualities of leadership, and it's important you put those to a positive and not a negative use, so I hope you will take that to heart," Johnson said.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Trends;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.