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Updated Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 05:48 AM

Barefoot Bandit faces new charges in 2010 plane theft

By Jennifer Sullivan
Seattle Times staff reporter

More than a year after being sentenced to prison for a crime spree that stretched from Washington state to the Bahamas, Colton Harris-Moore is facing new criminal charges.

The Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office earlier this month refiled charges against the so-called Barefoot Bandit involving the theft of an airplane from Anacortes in 2010.

The charges of first-degree theft and second-degree burglary were originally filed against Harris-Moore shortly after his two-year crime spree ended with his arrest in the Bahamas in July 2010. But Skagit County prosecutors dropped the charges in 2011 as police and prosecutors from the other jurisdictions where Harris-Moore committed crimes negotiated over the charges he would face.

Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said Wednesday his office dropped the charges “to let the other counties deal with what they were dealing with” as part of the large-scale plea negotiations.

As a result, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to more than 40 felonies, cooperated with authorities and promised the proceeds of a movie deal to pay for restitution. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in a Washington state prison and three years of probation on Jan. 27, 2012.

Weyrich declined to go into detail over why his office was refiling the charges against Harris-Moore now. “We believe he committed a crime in Skagit County and he should be held accountable for it,” he said.

Harris-Moore’s attorney, John Henry Browne, called the new charges “a horrendous waste of time.”

Browne said the plane that Harris-Moore was accused of stealing from Anacortes and landing on Orcas Island sustained little damage.

“I thought Colton was supposed to be the juvenile here. It’s silly,” said Browne, referring to Harris-Moore’s age when he committed his crimes. He’s now 21.

After escaping from a Renton halfway house in 2008, Harris-Moore was suspected of a string of break-ins, car thefts and boat thefts on Camano Island, San Juan County and elsewhere.

He reportedly taught himself to fly by studying flight manuals and websites and stole several aircraft, including a Cessna in Idaho in September 2009 that he crashed near Granite Falls. Harris-Moore also stole a plane in Indiana and crash-landed it on July 4, 2010, in the Bahamas, where he was captured a week later.

He was dubbed the Barefoot Bandit because bare footprints were found at several crime scenes. In the San Juan Islands, chalk outlines of feet were found on the floor of a burglarized grocery.

The Internet made the Barefoot Bandit a worldwide cult hero — a Colton Harris-Moore Facebook page boasted tens of thousands of followers.

He sold the movie rights to his story for $1.3 million, which will be used to cover the $1.65 million in damages that state and federal prosecutors say he caused during his crime spree.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives. Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.



Colton Harris-Moore




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