Chatwin Pleads To Bank Fraud; Brandishing Firearm; Plea Agreement Includes Recommendation For 12-Year Sentence
SALT LAKE CITY – A man who led law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase through Sandy, Murray and West Valley City in August pleaded guilty Friday afternoon in federal court to bank fraud and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 12 years followed by 60 months of supervised release.
Joseph Lee Chatwin, age 41, of Salt Lake City, and a co-defendant, Shauntae Leah Stratton, age 24, of Salt Lake City, were charged with access device fraud; aggravated identity theft; bank fraud; possession of stolen mail; and possession of unauthorized access devices. In addition to those charges, Chatwin also was charged with possession of a controlled substance; assaulting, resisting, and impeding officers; using a firearm during a crime of violence; and possession of a firearm by a restricted person in the 11-count indictment returned in October.
Chatwin and Stratton were initially apprehended on July 17, 2012, by Farmington police officers inside a stolen motor home at the Lagoon campground. Both defendants attempted to flee from police. Stratton was recaptured a short time later. Chatwin was arrested later in a shed. However, he later kicked out the window of a police car and escaped. The U.S. Marshals’ Joint Criminal Apprehension Team developed information in early August that Chatwin was at a home in Sandy. Officers tried to arrest him as he left the residence but he evaded arrest and led officers on the high speed pursuit. Officers were successful in spiking the tires of the car he was driving. Chatwin was subsequently arrested after brandishing a firearm at the Marshals.
As a part of the plea agreement, Chatwin admitted that he and Stratton stole a purse early in May from a victim identified as O.P. in the court document. They later saw a motor home for sale by owner and used a cell phone from O.P.’s stolen purse to negotiate the purchase price of the motor home. They later met in person with the owner of the motor home and finalized a purchase price of $30,000. Using O.P.’s personal information from the stolen purse, Chatwin says his co-defendant, with his knowledge and approval, opened a bank account in O.P.’s name at U.S. Bank using funds from a stolen check from two other victims. Chatwin said the co-defendant also obtained a cashier’s check at U.S. Bank payable to the owner of the motor home for $30.00. Chatwin admitted they altered this check to be payable in the amount of $30,000 and used the fraudulent check to pay for the motor home.
As Chatwin was attempting to leave a home in Sandy in early August, officers attempted to arrest him. He admitted he evaded them and almost struck a law enforcement vehicle as he was driving in a church parking lot. He admitted he then led police on a lengthy high-speed chase through Sandy, Murray and West Valley City areas until officers spiked the tires of the car he was driving. Chatwin admitted that he exited the car and was approached by Deputy U.S. Marshals who instructed him to stop. He brandished a 9 mm Ruger handgun, which was observed by the Marshals. He was arrested by the Marshals.
The final amount of victim restitution in the case will be determined at sentencing. However, Chatwin has agreed that the amount of restitution ordered in the case will include all relevant conduct.
Sentencing for Chatwin has been set for June 3. A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Stratton on March 5 at 10:30 a.m. in Judge Robert J. Shelby’s courtroom.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City. Several agencies have participated in the investigation including the West Jordan Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Unified Police Department, and West Valley City and Farmington Police Departments, among others.