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Sirens & Gavels

Barefoot Bandit faces 5-6 years in prison

John Henry Browne addresses the media after agreeing to a sentencing term with his client, Colton Harris-Moore on the steps of the Federal Office Building today in Seattle. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Greg Gilbert)

SEATTLE (AP) — The young Washington state man who gained international notoriety during a two-year run from the law in stolen boats, cars and planes pleaded guilty Friday to seven charges in the “Barefoot Bandit” case.

Under a plea agreement, Colton Harris-Moore would forfeit any future earnings from movie, book, or other deals from selling his story. Earnings would be used to pay off the $1.4 million in restitution he owes to his many victims.

Harris-Moore could receive between 5 1/4 and 6 1/2 years in prison when he's sentenced in October, defense attorney John Henry Browne said.

However, he still faces state charges in several counties, including the county where his crimes began. (He's pictured right in a sketch by Peter Millett.)

 Prosecutors have said Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States, frequently crash-landing planes in rural areas and stealing cars from parking lots at small airports. His escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero, and he earned the “Barefoot Bandit” moniker by committing some of crimes without shoes.

Harris-Moore, now 20, smiled and greeted his lawyers as he entered the court room Friday. He sat quietly — sometimes smiling, sometimes holding his hands and looking down — as federal judge Richard Jones went over the details of the crimes.

“We're here today to say that Mr. Harris-Moore's flight from justice has ended,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan (pictured left with San Juan County prosecutor Randall Gaylord) said after the hearing. He will “spend a significant time in prison and will not make one dime from his crimes.”

The federal charges, which included stealing an aircraft, possession of firearms and piloting without a license, stemmed from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early 2010, when Harris-Moore was accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands.

Authorities say he later stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took a plane from a hangar in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors said.

He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash. From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore traveled across the United States.

In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, where he was captured last July.

Harris-Moore also faces several dozen charges in four Washington counties, with the most serious charge being burglary where a handgun was involved. Those charges will likely be consolidated and a hearing should take place in about a month, San Juan County prosecutor Randall K. Gaylord said.

Friday's agreement calls for Harris-Moore to serve his federal sentence concurrently with whatever prison time he may get from the state.

But the state charges could mean more time in prison beyond what the federal judge decides, as well as an increase in the restitution owed, according to federal and local prosecutors.

“All of this is up to the judge,” Browne said. “We're very hopeful it'll be around the same sentence.”

Browne added that Harris-Moore's story would attract enough attention to pay off all the restitution.

Asked what Harris-Moore plans to do after he's done with prison, Browne said that he'd like to go to college to study engineering.


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