Theft ringleader pleads guilty to 7 charges
Teens he enlisted to commit thefts include former legislative candidate Anthony Bittner
Originally published October 23, 2012 at 3:27 p.m., updated October 23, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.
In the summer of 2010, Battle Ground resident Jorgan E. Cattin enlisted a group of high school students to perform car prowls and thefts.
Cattin then sold the stolen items, such as iPods, GPS units, digital cameras, wakeboards, golf clubs and MP3 players, on Craigslist and eBay. The goal of Cattin and his co-defendants, prosecutors said, was to make enough money to afford a house for the group to use as a marijuana growing operation.
It never happened. Instead, sheriff’s deputies quickly uncovered what they described as a major crime ring involving seven defendants — including former legislative candidate Anthony Bittner — and, perhaps, hundreds of victims.
Cattin, 26, a former pizza shop owner who met Bittner through Young Life, a Christian organization, pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven charges. They were five counts of first-degree trafficking in stolen property, possession of stolen property and money laundering.
He will be sentenced Nov. 21 and faces a standard sentencing range of 43 to 57 months. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey said he and defense attorney Brian Walker will recommend a four-year sentence.
Sentencing was delayed so Cattin could get his affairs in order and also so he could attend his grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary this weekend in Federal Way.
Initially charged with leading organized crime and maintaining a drug house, Cattin could have faced between 57 and 75 months in prison had he gone to trial.
“Basically, he didn’t get a huge break” with the plea bargain, Harvey said.
At the Tuesday hearing before Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson, Cattin admitted to trafficking stolen property between July and September 2010. Items included a trailer full of camping gear stolen from a Ridgefield Boy Scout troop and some wakeboards, Cattin said in his statement of guilt.
Harvey said Cattin, who owned Good Pizza Co. in Salmon Creek, knew some of his teenage co-defendants because they worked for him and he knew Bittner through Young Life. Cattin was a volunteer with the organization; however, officials said Cattin was never an official leader and the crimes occurred after Cattin was no longer involved in Young Life.
Bittner, who ran for the state House of Representatives shortly after graduating from Skyview High School in 2010, helped conspire to burglarize a home in Battle Ground and also took part in the theft of the Boy Scout trailer, prosecutors said.
Bittner ran as a Republican for now-Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s open 18th District House seat, and finished last in a seven-way primary race.
Now 20, Bittner pleaded guilty July 7, 2011, to attempted residential burglary and second-degree possession of stolen property. He will be sentenced Nov. 1. His sentencing has been postponed, as were other co-defendants’, because Bittner had a cooperation agreement with prosecutors to testify against Cattin in case Cattin’s case went to trial.