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Plea deal reached for man accused of bank fraud, fleeing from police

Published: Friday, March 1 2013 7:26 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A man who escaped police custody and led officers on a chase through three cities reached a plea deal Friday.

Joseph Lee Chatwin, 41, pleaded guilty in federal court to bank fraud and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime. The plea agreement stipulates a 12-year jail sentence followed by 60 months of supervised release.

Chatwin and co-defendant Shauntae Leah Stratton, 24, originally faced a litany of charges, including aggravated identity theft, bank fraud and possession of stolen mail.

Chatwin was also charged with possession of a controlled substance, using a firearm during a violent crime, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, and assaulting, resisting and impeding officers.

Police located Chatwin and Stratton in a stolen motor home at the Lagoon campground July 17, 2012. Both fled and were later apprehended, but Chatwin escaped again by kicking out the window of a police car.

In August, Chatwin led police on a high-speed chase through Sandy, Murray and West Valley City and was arrested by deputy U.S. marshals after police spiked the tires of the car he was driving. During the arrest, he brandished a 9 mm handgun at the marshals. 

Chatwin admitted in the deal that he and Stratton had stolen a purse in May from a woman and used a cellphone they found inside to arrange to purchase the motor home.

Stratton then used stolen checks from other victims to open a bank account using the woman's identity, with Chatwin's knowledge and approval, Chatwin said. A cashier's check for $30 from the new bank account was then altered to the amount of $30,000 and used to buy the motor home.

Chatwin will be sentenced June 3. The final amount of victim restitution will also be determined at the hearing. 

McKenzie Romero

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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