Suspect in 2012 crime spree takes plea deal

Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 01, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - The prime suspect in a 2012 crime spree accepted a plea deal on Friday.

Prosecutors say Joseph Lee Chatwin and Shauntae Leah Stratton were behind a massive crime spree last summer.

"It ranged from bank fraud, identity theft to escape, even brandishing a firearm at U.S. Marshals," said U.S. Assistant Attorney John Huber.

According to prosecutors, Chatwin turned a $30 cashier's check into a $30,000 check, then used it to buy an RV from Mike Leroy.

Leroy says Chatwin seemed like a good guy and the check appeared to be legitimate. Then he got to the bank.

"And gave him the check and said, 'Is is real?' And he said no and I thought he was joking because it looked real to me," Leroy said last summer.

Chatwin and Stratton then allegedly used that motorhome as a base of operations for multiple crimes, including fraud, burglaries and identity theft, police say.

The pair were caught in the motorhome at the Lagoon campground last summer, but both suspects managed to escape from police custody.

They were later recaptured then indicted by a grand jury. On Friday, Chatwin made a deal with the U.S. Attorney.

"He's come to grips with what he's done, he's taken responsibility and that goes a long way. Still, he has a measure of justice that he has to pay the price for," Huber said.

Stratton is due in federal court next week. Prosecutors hope to resolve her case then.