ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: planes

Feds: Pilot lands in Spokane while drunk

A commercial pilot was drunk when he landed a plane at the Spokane International Airport in April, federal prosecutors allege.

Paul Robbin Roessler, of Federal Way, is to appear in U.S. District Court in Spokane June 29 for a charge operating a common carrier under the influence of alcohol, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

The charge alleges Roessler flew a twin engine PA-34 aircraft for Airpac Airlines, Inc., from Boeing Field in Seattle to the Spokane airport while drunk on April 26.

A federal grand jury indicted him last week. Airport spokesman Todd Woodward directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which has not immediately returned a phone call.

Federal aviation records say Roessler was a certified commercial pilot and flight instructor but that his certificates are no longer active.

A man who answered the phone for Airpac Airlines identified himself as Roger and declined comment. The company is described on its website as a a contract cargo operator based out of Boeing Field since 1976.
  

Barefoot Bandit sentenced to 7+ years

Colton Harris-Moore, left, also known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” talks with his attorney, John Henry Browne, right, in Island County Superior Court today in Coupeville, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press

COUPEVILLE, Wash. (AP) — The youthful thief who rocketed to international notoriety as the “Barefoot Bandit” while he evaded police in pilfered cars, boats and planes during a two-year crime spree was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in a Washington state prison after pleading guilty to dozens of charges.

Colton Harris-Moore, now 20, showed no reaction as the sentence was delivered by a judge who took pity on his bleak upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends — a situation she described as a “mind-numbing absence of hope.”

“This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways,” Island County Judge Vickie Churchill said. “I could have been reading about the history of a mass murderer. I could have been reading about a drug abusive, alcoholic young man. That is the triumph of Colton Harris-Moore: He has survived.”

Harris-Moore's daring run from the law earned him international fame and a movie deal to help repay his victims after he flew a stolen plane from Indiana to the Bahamas in July 2010, crash-landed it near a mangrove swamp and was arrested by Bahamian authorities in a hail of bullets.

Friday's proceedings consolidated cases against Harris-Moore in three Washington counties. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year, but the sentence is expected to be shorter than his state term.

Harris-Moore faced a sentencing range of just over seven years to just under 10 years.

“Colton's very pleased,” said his attorney John Henry Browne. “He was expecting the worst.”

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said he's glad the case is over and he could live with the sentence.

“I can see why people are sympathetic to him,” Banks said. “It's still a significant amount of time for someone who's never been in the adult system.”

Wearing handcuffs and an orange jail uniform, Colton Harris-Moore spoke softly in court while entering his pleas.

In a statement provided to the judge, he said his childhood was one he wouldn't wish on his “darkest enemies.”

Still, he said he takes responsibility for the crime spree that brought him international notoriety, and said he learned only too late of the fear he was instilling in his victims.

Harris-Moore said he studied manuals and online videos to teach himself to be a pilot, and the thrills he experienced while flying stolen planes renewed his passion for life and will help him rehabilitate while in prison.

“The euphoria of the countdown to takeoff and the realization of a dream was nearly blinding,” he wrote of his first illicit flight on Nov. 11, 2008. “My first thought after takeoff was 'Oh my God, I'm flying.' I had waited my entire life for that moment.”

He said he'll use his prison time to study and get ready to apply to college, with the hope of earning an aeronautical engineering degree.

Several victims and a few curious citizens watched Harris-Moore enter his pleas in Island County Superior Court, along with Harris-Moore's aunt.

Browne also said the young man's time on the run was horrific and included spending nights in culverts and portable toilets.

Harris-Moore's first conviction came at age 12, in 2004, for possession of stolen property, and according to the reports, his first experience with burglary came when he broke into the homes of his classmates to steal food because his mother spent most of her Social Security income on beer and cigarettes — something she has denied.

Over the next three years he was convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes.

In 2007, the boy was sentenced to three years in a juvenile lockup after pleading guilty to three burglary counts in Island County. But he fled the minimum-security facility in April 2008 and was soon back to his old tricks, breaking into unoccupied vacation homes, stealing food and sometimes staying there.

As red-faced investigators repeatedly failed to catch him, his antics escalated: He began stealing planes from small, rural airports and crash-landing them — at least five in all.

Waves of burglaries broke out on Orcas Island, where Kyle Ater runs his Homegrown Market and Deli, in late 2009 and in early 2010, after stolen planes were found at the airport there. The second time, Harris-Moore left Ater's new security system in a utility sink, under a running faucet.

Harris-Moore's final spree came after he stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took a plane (pictured) from a hangar in Boundary County, Idaho, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane, owned by a Bonners Ferry cattle rancher, crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel.

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, frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, more than 1,000 miles away, where authorities finally caught him in a manhunt that spanned multiple islands.

Among the courtroom spectators Friday were 18-year-olds Annie Cain and Hayley Hanna, who drove from nearby Langley to be at the courthouse at 5:30 a.m. — four hours before the hearing.

“We wanted to be here just because he's so young, and everything he did, it's fascinating,” Cain said.

Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth $1.3 million, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie “Milk,” about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is working on the screenplay.

Harris-Moore doesn't get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ to plead guilty today

In this Feb. 11, 2010 file photo provided by the Islands' Sounder newspaper, chalk drawings of bare feet are shown on the floor of the Homegrown Market on Orcas Island, Wash., after Colton Harris-Moore broke in overnight. (AP Photo/Courtesy Islands' Sounder, Meredith Griffith, File)

By GENE JOHNSON,Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — When Colton Harris-Moore broke into Kyle Ater's grocery store in Washington's serene San Juan Islands — the second time — he drew cartoonish bare feet and a three-letter message in chalk on the floor: “C-YA!”

 Turns out the Barefoot Bandit was right.

Harris-Moore, now 20, will see Ater and other victims today at Island County Superior Court, where he is expected to plead guilty to about 30 state felony charges arising from a two-year, cross-country crime spree in stolen planes, boats and cars.

 Harris-Moore's daring run from the law earned him international notoriety, not to mention a movie deal to help repay his victims, after he flew a stolen plane from Indiana to the Bahamas in July 2010, crash-landed it near a mangrove swamp and was arrested by Bahamian authorities in a hail of bullets.

“I want to see the phantom with my own eyes,” Ater said Thursday. “There were so many people affected by his crimes, and probably even some that don't know they were affected. They're still looking for their cell phone, or wondering why their propane bill was so high that month.”

Friday's proceedings before Judge Vickie Churchill consolidate cases against Harris-Moore in three Washington counties. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year. He will serve his state and federal sentences at the same time. The federal charges included his theft of an airplane from the Boundary County Airport that belonged to a Bonners Ferry, Idaho, cattle rancher.

State prosecutors plan to ask for a nine-and-a-half year sentence Friday, while Harris-Moore's attorneys, John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan, are seeking a six-year term, citing his bleak childhood in a Camano Island trailer with an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends. They laid out the details of his upbringing in psychiatric and mitigation reports filed with the court.

“Colt blames no one but himself,” wrote Pamela L. Rogers, a mitigation investigator who reviewed Harris-Moore's case. “He made bad choices and takes full responsibility and expects to be held accountable for those bad choices. … He desperately hopes to one day have a career and a family and make contributions he can feel good about — and he's willing to work hard for that.”

Harris-Moore's first conviction came at age 12, in 2004, for possession of stolen property, and according to Rogers' report, his first experience with burglary came when he broke into the homes of his classmates to steal food because his mother spent most of her Social Security income on beer and cigarettes — something she has denied.

Over the next three years he was convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. At one point he was arrested when a detective posed as a pizza-delivery driver.

In 2007, the boy was sentenced to three years in a juvenile lockup after pleading guilty to three burglary counts in Island County. But he fled the minimum-security facility in April 2008 and was soon back to his old tricks, breaking into unoccupied vacation homes, stealing food and sometimes staying there.

As red-faced investigators repeatedly failed to catch him, his antics escalated: He began stealing planes from small, rural airports and crash-landing them — at least five in all.

“What was characterized by the media as the swashbuckling adventures of a rakish teenager were in fact the actions of a depressed, possibly suicidal young man with waxing and waning post-traumatic stress disorder (following his first plane crash in November 2008),” wrote Dr. Richard S. Adler, a psychiatrist who evaluated him for the defense lawyers.

Waves of burglaries broke out on Orcas Island, where Ater runs his Homegrown Market and Deli, in late 2009 and in early 2010, after stolen planes were found at the airport there. The second time, Harris-Moore left Ater's new security system in a utility sink, under a running faucet. He took cash and a tray of croissants, and Ater's insurance company jacked up his rates.

Mike Parnell, a former owner of the Oakley sunglasses company who lives on Orcas, was repeatedly victimized. Harris-Moore hid out for long periods in the second level of his hangar at the airport, and when Parnell and his family would go on trips in their plane, Harris-Moore would take their car to their house and eat their food. At one point, Harris-Moore entered their home while Parnell was there with his wife and three children and grabbed his wife's car keys off a counter.

“We were all fearing for our lives,” Parnell said Thursday. “The kids wouldn't sleep in their own bedrooms. We purchased night vision goggles. I'm glad that day is finally approaching when we will finally know what the consequences are, and I hope it's sufficient for the way our whole island suffered.”

Harris-Moore's final spree came after he stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from the hangar in Bonners Ferry, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel.

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, frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, more than 1,000 miles away, where authorities finally caught him in a manhunt that spanned multiple islands.

Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth $1.3 million, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie “Milk,” about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk, is working on the screenplay. He's met with Harris-Moore several times at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, according to Lance Rosen, Harris-Moore's entertainment lawyer.

Harris-Moore doesn't get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.

Barefoot Bandit movie worth up to $1.3M

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The young man dubbed the Barefoot Bandit after a cross-country crime spree brought him folk outlaw status has reportedly signed a movie deal worth as much as $1.3 million with 20th Century Fox. 

The Daily Herald reports that the money will be used to help pay the minimum $1.4 million that 20-year-old Colton Harris-Moore owes in restitution to the victims of his two-year-long crime spree, which included the theft of a small airplane in Bonners Ferry.

Seattle entertainment lawyer Lance Rosen negotiated the deal on Harris-Moore's behalf. He says it's an unusual amount of money to be paid for anyone's life story rights.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in June to seven federal felony charges. Sentencing is set for October; he's expected to receive 5 to 6 years in prison He still faces state court charges.

Past coverage:

June 8: Fed balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

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.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ to plead guilty today

SEATTLE (AP) — The 20-year-old Washington state man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” was expected to plead guilty to criminal charges stemming from his 2-year run from the law in stolen boats, cars and planes, federal officials said Thursday.

Colton Harris-Moore will plead guilty today in federal court, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle said. No further comment was provided.

Authorities say Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the United States during his run, frequently stealing cars from parking lots after landing at small airports. In Indiana, he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas, where he was captured at gunpoint in a stolen boat last July.

Harris-Moore earned the “Barefoot Bandit” moniker by committing some of crimes without shoes. He pleaded not guilty to a federal indictment last week, but his lawyers had signaled that a deal with prosecutors was close. His charges include an allegation that he stole a small plane in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

One of Harris-Moore's attorneys, Emma Scanlan, confirmed Thursday that he would plead guilty.

She declined to comment on the plea deal except to say it included a sentencing recommendation and resolves the question of whether he could participate in book or movie deals, with proceeds used to repay victims. Harris-Moore's lawyers have said restitution from his run would total about $1.3 million.

Harris-Moore's escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero, and federal prosecutors have expressed reluctance to let him sell his story because it could compound the publicity he's received.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early 2010, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands. Authorities say he then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from the Bonners Ferry airport, where investigators found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say.

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 hopscotched his way across the United States until he made it to the Bahamas

In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

Feds balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

SEATTLE (AP) — Plea negotiations involving the young man known as the “Barefoot Bandit” have hit a snag as federal prosecutors balk at letting him sell the rights to his sensational tale, even if money from movie or book deals is used to repay his victims, his attorney said today. 

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen boats, planes and cars that finally ended with his arrest in the Bahamas last summer.

He earned the moniker by committing some of his crimes barefoot, his daring antics earned him a popular following, and plans for movies or books about the case are already in the works. One of his charges alleges he stole a small plane from the Bonners Ferry airport.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, doesn't dispute the allegations.

He has long maintained that Harris-Moore has no interest in profiting from his crime spree but would be interested in selling his story if it meant his victims could be repaid.

Plea talks initially called for proceeds from such deals being turned over to a court-appointed special master who would dole out the money to victims. But in the last few days, prosecutors have said they're reluctant to let Harris-Moore sell his story at all, Browne said.

The U.S. attorney's office in Seattle did not return calls seeking comment. The office generally does not discuss plea negotiations; Browne said prosecutors have not made any final decision about the publicity rights.

“If the victims don't get paid, it's not going to be Colton's fault,” Browne said. “There are going to be movies and books about this case anyway, so the government is not going to minimize what Colton did. It doesn't make any sense.”

Many of the losses sustained by burglary or theft victims were covered by insurance companies, which could be in line for a share of publicity deal proceeds.

Harris-Moore is due in court Thursday, where he is expected to plead not guilty to a superseding indictment filed against him.

Browne and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts had previously said in court they hoped to have a plea deal reached by the end of last month that would provide the framework for resolving state and federal charges against Harris-Moore.

The new indictment, returned last month, added a bank burglary charge to the five other federal charges against Harris-Moore: interstate transportation of a stolen plane, gun, and boat; being a fugitive in possession of a firearm; and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman's certificate.

The new indictment also includes language requiring Harris-Moore to forfeit “any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant” based on his publication or dissemination of his tale. Browne has thus far represented Harris-Moore for free, and he said he is not seeking to have Harris-Moore sell publicity rights so that he himself can get paid.

The government indicated it would never agree to using book- or movie-deal proceeds to pay for Harris-Moore's legal representation, Browne said, and that was taken off the negotiating table long ago.

“I'm losing $100,000 or more on this case,” Browne said. “I'm sticking with it because I need to see it through for Colton.”

Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island north of Seattle and was known to sheriff's deputies from the time he was a young boy. By his mid-teens, he had convictions for theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault, among other crimes. Deputies once caught him by pretending they were delivering him a pizza.

In early 2008, Harris-Moore escaped out the window of a halfway house south of Seattle, and began once again burglarizing vacation homes in the islands of Washington state. He also started stealing planes from small airports in the region, though he had no formal flight training and totaled two of the aircraft in crash-landings.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early this year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands.

He then stole a pistol in eastern British Columbia and took the plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar, where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall. That plane crashed near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel, prosecutors say. He made his way to Oregon in a 32-foot boat stolen from in southwestern Washington — stopping first to leave $100 at an animal shelter in Raymond, Wash.

From Oregon, authorities said, Harris-Moore hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas. He was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

In all, Harris-Moore is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

‘Barefoot Bandit’ injures ankle in jail

SEATTLE (AP) — The man accused of being the Barefoot Bandit injured an ankle while playing volleyball at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.

Attorney Emma Scanlan told The Seattle Times today that Colton Harris-Moore is on crutches.

The 20-year-old from Camano Island is accused of a crime spree that stretched from Puget Sound to the Caribbean, including burglaries, and boat and airplane thefts.

He earned the nickname because he allegedly committed some of the crimes while barefoot.

Harris-Moore was arrested on July 11 in the Bahamas and is awaiting trial on six federal charges and more than 30 state felonies. One of the federal charges accuses him of stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar.

Attorney John Henry Browne says a plea deal is in the works.

Plea deal expected for Barefoot Bandit

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington's “Barefoot Bandit,” who is accused of evading authorities for two years as he pilfered cars, boats and airplanes in a daring cross-country crime spree, could wind up reaching a blanket plea agreement that would avoid trials in more than a dozen jurisdictions, his lawyers said Friday. 

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, crash-landed a stolen airplane in the Bahamas last year and was arrested at gunpoint before being returned to the U.S.

Though he has pleaded not guilty, his attorney, John Henry Browne, has freely discussed Harris-Moore's intent to accept responsibility if a deal resolving state and federal charges in about 17 jurisdictions can be reached. 

Browne (right) declined to discuss Friday how much prison time he expects his client to receive under any deal, but he previously said Harris-Moore is looking at anywhere from four to 12 years if convicted.

A deal could also involve Harris-Moore donating any movie- or book-deal profits to repaying victims, Browne said.

“Everyone is trying very hard to resolve every case … in this case,” said Browne, pictured right.

The U.S. attorney's office says Harris-Moore is the primary suspect in scores of crimes since he escaped from a group home near Seattle in April 2008. They include stealing five airplanes, three of which were wrecked in crash landings; dozens of break-ins at homes and businesses; and the theft of cash, food, electronics, firearms, cars and boats across nine states, British Columbia and the Bahamas.

The federal charges stem from late 2009 and last year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands; stealing a pistol in eastern British Columbia; stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar ) where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall, and flying it to Granite Falls, Wash., where it crashed after running out of fuel; and stealing a 32-foot boat in southwestern Washington and taking it to Oregon.

From Oregon, authorities said, the self-taught pilot hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas.

His escapades earned him cult status as an authority-mocking folk hero.

Harris-Moore appeared before U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones for a status conference Friday. Both his lawyers and Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts told the judge they've made progress toward a plea deal, which could be reached by the end of May.

“There are still a lot of moving parts,” Roberts said. “We think it can all work out.”

After the hearing, Browne said the plea deal would likely involve Harris-Moore pleading guilty to federal crimes in federal court, and all Washington state crimes in a single state superior court — most likely in Island County, which encompasses Camano Island, where he grew up and was known to police from boyhood.

He also faces charges in San Juan County and Skagit Counties, and prosecutors and police in other counties, including Snohomish, Mason and Kitsap, are still investigating cases that may be linked to him.

Browne said he plans to travel to the Midwest soon to meet with prosecutors there.

Deal possible in Barefoot Bandit case

SEATTLE (AP) — The attorney for the teenager accused of being the “Barefoot Bandit” is working with prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal the lawyer says could involve using movie- or book-deal profits to compensate the victims of an alleged two-year, cross-country crime spree.

Through his lawyer, defendant Colton Harris-Moore, 19, pleaded not guilty this morning to federal charges that include the theft of a small plane in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, last fall.

He also pleaded not guilty to four other federal charges for an alleged cross-coutnry crime spree that ended with his arrest in a stolen boat in the Bahamas

“He’s very reluctant to make a dime off this, he really is,” said his lawyer, John Henry Browne (pictured). 

However, Browne said that when he told his client that money from movie or book deals could be used to repay victims — and incidentally win him a more favorable plea deal, with less time behind bars — “that changed his mind a little bit.”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle declined to comment on whether it is negotiating a possible plea deal with Harris-Moore. 

The “Barefoot Bandit” moniker was coined after a thief committed some of the crimes without socks or shoes and gained a big following on the Internet.

Harris-Moore is accused of leading authorities on a cat-and-mouse game in pilfered cars, boats and small planes after allegedly escaping a halfway house south of Seattle in 2008. This year he made a daring cross-country dash that ended four months ago after he allegedly stole a plane in Indiana, crash-landed it in the Bahamas and was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

Harris-Moore, who was indicted by a grand jury last week, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler on Thursday wearing prison khakis over an orange shirt. He stated his name and year of birth, and frequently looked down during the brief hearing.

He told the judge he understood the charges against him — interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, a stolen firearm and a stolen vessel, as well as being a fugitive in possession of a firearm and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate.

Browne entered the not guilty plea on Harris-Moore’s behalf. Afterward, the attorney told reporters that discussions are in the early stages on a possible deal that could resolve federal and state charges against Harris-Moore.

Not guilty pleas are typical at this stage, even if defendants later intend to change their pleas.

Four of the five counts against Harris-Moore carry maximum sentences of 10 years in prison, and Browne said that realistically his client could be looking at anywhere from four to 12 years if convicted. Trial was set for Jan. 18.

The federal charges stem from a spate of crimes in late 2009 and early this year, when Harris-Moore is accused of flying a stolen plane from Anacortes, in northwestern Washington, to the San Juan Islands; stealing a pistol in eastern British Columbia; stealing a plane from a Bonners Ferry hangar where authorities found bare footprints on the floor and wall, and flying it to Granite Falls, Wash., where it crashed after running out of fuel; and stealing a 32-foot boat in southwestern Washington and taking it to Oregon.(The plane in Bonners Ferry was owned by a cattle rancher)

From Oregon, authorities said, the bandit hopscotched his way across the U.S., frequently stealing cars from the parking lots of small airports, until he made it to Indiana, where he stole another plane and made for the Bahamas.

In all, Harris-Moore, a self-taught pilot, is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

A possible plea deal by Harris-Moore would require the consent of prosecutors in other jurisdictions.

Some, including Greg Banks, the prosecutor in Island County, where Harris-Moore grew up and where he was first arrested at age 12, have indicated they want Harris-Moore to answer for local crimes in their courts, rather than in one overarching plea in federal court in Seattle.

If those prosecutors don’t want to cooperate, “I’ll bankrupt them,” Browne said, citing the expense of putting on a high-profile trial in small, rural counties.

The assertion drew a chuckle from Banks.

“I’ve had calls all morning about whether a jury trial over a bunch of burglaries is going to bankrupt our county, and the answer is no,” Banks said. “It was a funny thing for him to say.”

Banks, however, said he wouldn’t rule out agreeing to a global plea deal if it meant any profits could be used to repay victims, but he noted the complexity of working out such a deal. And, he said, Harris-Moore wouldn’t necessarily need to sell his story to pay restitution.

“He’s a fairly industrious young man,” Banks said. “By the time he gets out of custody he’ll probably be able to get a job and make some money. He’s talented.”

Browne said Harris-Moore has been in solitary confinement at the Federal Detention Center south of Seattle, where he’s been drawing airplane designs and reading about aircraft and nature. He’s received letters from his mother and aunt, but few visits, and he’s not interested in getting out of solitary, Browne said.

“He’d rather stay where he is, which is rather unusual,” the lawyer said.

Grand jury indicts Barefoot Bandit

A federal grand jury has indicted a notorious ex-teen fugitive for the theft of a small plane in Bonners Ferry last fall.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, faces five charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle for an alleged crime spree that began after he escaped from a group home in April 2008, according to an indictment filed today.

“The grand jury action today is an important step in holding Colton Harris-Moore accountable for his criminal conduct,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny A. Durkan said in a prepared statement.

Harris-Moore is charged with interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft for allegedly stealing a Cessna 182 on Sept. 29, 2009, from the Boundary County Airport, then crash-landing it near Granite Falls, Wash., after it ran out of fuel. The $340,000 plane was owned by a Bonners Ferry cattle rancher.

The teen is charged with piloting an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate for a flight he made in a stolen plane from Anacortest to Eastsound, Wash., on Feb. 10, and with interstate transportation of a stolen vessel for allegedly stealing a boat in Ilwaco, Wash., on May 31 and taking it to Oregon.

He also faces two gun charges for a Jennings .22 caliber pistol and for a .32 caliber pistol stolen in British Columbia and recovered near Granite Falls.

The gun and theft charges are punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Piloting an aircraft without an airman’s certificate is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Harris-Moore remains in federal custody in western Washington. He gained international attention as the Barefoot Bandit before his arrest in the Bahamas in July after a high-speed boat chase.

Past coverage:

July 23: Bandit’s lawyer: He was scared to death

Oct. 7, 2009: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Flight attendant’s exit draws charges, fans

NEW YORK (AP) — No fed-up worker has ever said “I’ve had it” quite like Steven Slater.

Prosecutors say the JetBlue flight attendant flipped out over a fight with an agitated traveler Monday, cursing over the intercom before grabbing some beer from the plane’s galley and making a grand exit down the emergency slide at Kennedy Airport.

He has been charged with felonies but elevated to folk-hero status by thousands who shrugged off allegations that Slater endangered others and praised him for his take-this-job-and-shove-it moment.

Slater, whose father was an airline pilot, wore a slight smile Tuesday as he was led into a state court in Queens to be arraigned on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, counts that carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

The judge set his bail at $2,500.

Hours later, Slater exited a Bronx lockup after posting bail. Stephen Morello, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Correction, didn’t have details on who posted bail.

“It seems like something here has resonated with a few people. And that’s kinda neat,” Slater told reporters as he left the Vernon C. Bain Center before being whisked away in a car.

Slater, a 38-year-old airline veteran who lives steps from the Queens beach a few miles from the airport, had been flying long enough to see much of the gleam of the air travel experience tarnished by frayed nerves, rising fees, plummeting airline profits and packed cabins.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story by clicking the link below.

Flight attendant flees w/ beer after spat

NEW YORK (AP) — A JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, cursed the passenger, grabbed a beer from the galley and then deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane, authorities said.

Flight attendant Steven Slater was arrested at his nearby home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York And New Jersey police on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing.

Slater, 39, remained in custody Monday night. (A screen grab of MySpace page his pictured.) His attorney’s name wasn’t immediately available, and there was no home telephone number listed for him. A woman who answered a phone at a previous residence listed for Slater in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn’t speaking to the media.

JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.

Slater was working on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh when he got into an argument with the passenger, who was pulling down baggage from an overhead bin, the Port Authority said. The luggage apparently struck the attendant in the head and he asked for an apology, but the passenger refused, the agency said.

As the plane was landing, Slater got on the public-address system and cussed at the passenger, the Port Authority said. He then grabbed at least one beer, activated the slide, slid down and went to his car, it said.

Port Authority police were notified about 25 minutes later.

JetBlue would not say how long Slater had been employed by the company.

By Monday night, several Facebook pages had been set up in tribute to Slater, with many users of the social networking site expressing support for him for walking off the job.

Barefoot Bandit doesn’t like all the attention

SEATTLE (AP) — The “Barefoot Bandit” has received movie and book offers but is not interested in telling his story — nor does he want anyone else to do it, according to his attorney.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, is being held in Seattle on a federal count of interstate transportation of stolen property related to a plane theft at the Boundary County Airport in Bonners Ferry last fall.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Harris-Moore is the primary suspect in at least 80 crimes committed since he escaped from a group home near Seattle in April 2008.

They include stealing five airplanes, three of which were wrecked in crash landings, dozens of break-ins at homes and businesses, and the theft of cash, food, electronics, firearms, cars and boats across nine states, British Columbia and the Bahamas, where he was captured.

His attorney, John Henry Browne (pictured), told ABC News that Harris-Moore’s time as a fugitive wasn’t planned and he eluded authorities because he was afraid to turn himself in.

“He was sleeping in culverts, in ditches — and on occasion in a Porta-Potty or two,” he said.

Browne said he spoke with Harris-Moore for four hours on Saturday and found him to be “fascinating, intelligent and introspective.”

“He wanted me to give the message to the public that what he did was not romantic, that he shouldn’t be a role model,” Browne said during an interview on “Good Morning America.” ”He actually doesn’t like the attention he is getting.” (Seattle print shop owner Adin Stevens is pictured last October displaying a t-shirt he said he print on whim to celebrate Harris-Moore.)

Harris-Moore doesn’t plan to profit from his story and doesn’t want anyone else to either, Browne said.

“He felt if he told it or gave it away, it would no longer be his story,” Browne said. “Almost like, if you look in a mirror, your soul is stolen. It was really interesting.”

Asked about whether Harris-Moore flaunted his “Barefoot Bandit” image by drawing bare feet with chalk at one burglarized store, Browne said Harris-Moore intended it as a spoof.

“It was kind of like silly 19-year-old humor,” he said.

At a court hearing Friday, Harris-Moore did not contest his detention and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

Read an in-depth story on Harris-Moore’s time in the Bahamas, written by a Seattle Times reporter who traveled there, by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

July 23: Bandit’s lawyer: He was scared to death

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Bandit’s lawyer: ‘He was scared to death’

After Colton Harris-Moore’s brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle Thursday, his prominent Seattle defense lawyer had a message for the teen’s apparent admirers. 

“For any of the kids out there that think this is fun, it is not,” John Henry Browne told news reporters, according to a video from the Seattle Times. “He was scared to death most of the time…and he’s concerned that kids will think this was fun.”

Browne described Harris-Moore as “very smart but not terribly mature.”

“He seems like a kid… the whole media thing creeps him out…He doesn’t know what’s going on…He’s confused about it.”

Browne’s associate, Emma Scanlan, said Harris-Moore is “very relieved, actually, to be done with being lonely and being on the road by himself. I think things got out of control for him.”

Harris-Moore did not contest his detention Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. His next court appearance will likely come after a grand jury indictment.

The 19-year-old, captured after a boat chase in the Bahamas July 11, is accused of stealing a Cessna 182 from the Boundary County Airport last fall and crash landing it near Granite, Falls, Wash.

Past coverage: Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Barefoot Bandit returns to Washington state

SEATTLE (AP) — The alleged “Barefoot Bandit” is back in Washington state, where authorities say he began a two-year multistate crime spree.

Colton Harris-Moore arrived Wednesday afternoon from Miami on a U.S. Marshals plane and was promptly transferred to a federal detention facility in SeaTac, Wash., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said the 19-year-old is scheduled to make his initial court appearance before Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida on Thursday, when he will be advised of the charge against him and possible penalties. He’s been charged with stealing a plane in Bonners Ferry and crash-landing it in Granite Falls, Wash., last fall

Harris-Moore was arrested July 10 in the Bahamas a week after he reportedly crash-landed in a plane stolen from an Indiana airport.

Authorities in the sun-bathed Caribbean country launched an extensive manhunt for the teenager and arrested him as he tried to flee in a boat. His arrest ended a run from the law that started when he escaped from a halfway house in Washington state in April 2008.

The self-taught pilot is suspected of more than 70 crimes — including stealing several boats and five planes — across nine states.

Police dubbed Harris-Moore the “Barefoot Bandit” because he allegedly committed some of his crimes without shoes.

His spree turned him into a sort of folk hero, with more than 90,000 followers on a Facebook fan page.

Harris-Moore, who made an initial court appearances in Florida last week after returning to the country, faces a federal charge in the crash-landing of a plane stolen from Idaho last year.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office last week declined to comment on how the prosecution will proceed, except to say it is reviewing crimes attributed to Harris-Moore to see which might be prosecuted in federal court.

Police suspect he took stolen cars, a boat and planes across state lines, and interstate transportation of stolen property is a federal offense with a 10-year maximum sentence.

Messages to his mother, Pam Kohler, and his attorney, John Henry Browne, were not immediately returned.

Past coverage:

July 13: Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

July 11: Barefoot Bandit arrested after boat chase in Bahamas

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Barefoot Bandit appears in Miami courtroom

MIAMI (AP) — The teenager dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” by authorities will cool his heels in a Miami jail at least two more days while he sorts out which attorney will represent him.

At his first U.S. court appearance Wednesday since his arrest in the Bahamas, Colton Harris-Moore, 19, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Dube he thought his mother had hired a lawyer but he didn’t know the attorney’s name.

“I’d like to speak with my mom first,” said Harris-Moore, dressed in a standard tan prison jumpsuit, sandals and white socks. He added that he last spoke to his mother, Pam Kohler, “about a week ago.”

“She said that she hired one,” he said. “I have not met with him yet.”

Dube set another hearing for Friday morning to determine Harris-Moore’s legal representation, whether he should be released on bail and when he should return to Seattle to face an alleged two-year string of crimes.

Harris-Moore is suspected in about 70 burglaries, thefts and other property crimes in eight states and British Columbia, including thefts of aircraft — one of which he allegedly flew from Indiana to the Bahamas.

Kohler has asked Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne to represent her son in the criminal case, which currently involves the alleged theft of a plane in Bonners Ferry that was crashed in Washington state.

Browne has said he will handle it if Harris-Moore agrees. Another attorney, O. Yale Lewis, is helping Kohler with media and entertainment requests.

Harris-Moore was deported by the Bahamas to the U.S. on Tuesday, shortly after pleading guilty to illegally entering the island nation east of Miami.

Harris-Moore’s long odyssey on the lam ended Sunday after police ended a high-speed boat chase by shooting out the vessel’s engine. Harris-Moore’s attorney in the Bahamas, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy there would pay the teenager’s $300 fine.

Authorities say he earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname by committing some crimes while shoeless, and in February he he allegedly drew chalk-outline feet all over the floor of a grocery store during a burglary in Washington’s San Juan Islands.

Harris-Moore told police in the Bahamas that he came there because it has numerous islands, airports and docks.

The teenager claimed that he told islanders he was trying to get to Cuba so he could throw police off his trail, but he intended to make his way to the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas, police said.

Past coverage:

July 13: Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

July 11: Barefoot Bandit arrested after boat chase in Bahamas

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Barefoot Bandit’s tale turns to tricky legalities

SEATTLE — With Colton Harris-Moore locked up in a Bahamian jail, federal prosecutors in Seattle are compiling evidence of his alleged crimes on U.S. soil over the past two years, a process made even more difficult by the numerous jurisdictions claiming visits by the so-called “Barefoot Bandit.”

The number of federal and state charges that could be filed against the 19-year-old Camano Island man, let alone the amount or prison time he could face if convicted, is not yet clear. Once Harris-Moore is extradited to Seattle, a grand jury will review a case involving the theft of an airplane in Idaho — the sole federal charge filed against Harris-Moore — and additional charges could potentially be tacked on at that time, authorities said.

Over the past several weeks, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts has been in contact with police and prosecutors in states where Harris-Moore is suspected of committing crimes — a list that includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming and Nebraska — to find out how the prosecution should proceed, said Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle. He is suspected of burglarizing dozens of homes, and stealing cars, boats and at least five airplanes during a run from the law that began with his 2008 escape from a Seattle-area halfway house.

Read the rest of the story by Seattle Times reporter Jennifer Sullivan by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

July 12: Barefoot Bandit to face Bahamian judge

Feb. 11: Stolen plane, chalk drawn feet: Teen burglar back?

Oct. 7: Teen bandit becoming national sensation

Barefoot Bandit arrested on boat in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The teenage “Barefoot Bandit” who allegedly stole cars, boats and airplanes to dodge U.S. law enforcement was nabbed today as he tried to make a water escape then brought handcuffed — and shoeless — to the capital, abruptly ending his two-year life on the lam.

Colton Harris-Moore was arrested before dawn in northern Eleuthera, said Sgt. Chrislyn Skippings, a spokeswoman for the Royal Bahamas Police Force. A contingent of high-ranking officers traveled to the island and took the suspect to Nassau, the country’s capital, where he faces possible extradition to the United States.

True to his nickname, the 19-year-old suspect was barefoot as he stepped off the plane. He kept his head down and ignored questions shouted by reporters.

Escorted by six police cars and SUVs, the teen had close-shorn hair and wore short camouflage cargo pants, a white long-sleeved shirt and a bulletproof vest. Police blocked traffic on the route to the Central Detective Unit where he was taken for processing. Island police had been searching for the wily fugitive since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane a week ago on nearby Great Abaco Island, where he was blamed for a string of at least seven break-ins.

Authorities caught Harris-Moore on Harbour Island, a small tourist destination just off mainland Eleuthera, police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade told a news conference.

Harris-Moore was carrying a handgun that he tried to throw away and shots were fired during a water chase, Greenslade said. He did not say who fired them.

“It was like something you might see in the movies,” Greenslade said.

Earlier Sunday, a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to discuss the case said Harris-Moore initially attempted to flee but police shot out the engine on his boat.

He added that the suspect was examined by a doctor and appeared to be in good health. He will be taken to court this week and arraigned on charges including theft and burglary in the Bahamas, the commissioner said, noting that these charges will take priority over those pending against him in the United States.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Jeff Dubel, praised the “outstanding efforts” of the Bahamian authorities who captured the teen.

Read the rest of the AP story by clicking the link below.

Teen bandit may have stolen boat to escape

MARSH HARBOUR, Bahamas (AP) — A teen fugitive from Washington who has successfully eluded teams of local police and FBI agents may have slipped off the island where he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane nearly a week ago, police said today.

Authorities are investigating a report that Colton Harris-Moore, dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit,” has fled Great Abaco Island and was spotted on Eleuthera, about 40 miles to the south, two police officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the search. Bahamian National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest declined to comment.

It was unclear how the 19-year-old fugitive might have escaped the island, but a powerboat was stolen in Marsh Harbour.

The 44-foot boat was reported missing Thursday from the marina on Great Abaco Island, said Harry Mountain, a regional manager for The Moorings hotel and marina resort in Marsh Harbour.

The teen already is accused in a federal complaint of stealing a small plane from the Boundary County Airport last fall.

Investigators have been searching the 120-mile-long, boomerang-shaped island for Harris-Moore since he allegedly crash-landed a stolen plane in a marsh at its southern tip Sunday.

Working with the FBI, island soldiers and police have also been patrolling ports and airports to cut off potential escape routes for the wily convict, accused of dozens of burglaries in the U.S.

The marina where the boat was stolen is next door to a restaurant, Curly Tails, where the teen was allegedly caught on surveillance footage during a break-in about 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Police were investigating at least six other burglaries stretching from the island’s southern point to Marsh Harbour, a town of about 5,500 people.

About a dozen boats are stolen from the area each year, mostly by drug traffickers who target those with powerful outboard engines, said boat renter Tim Roberts. The latest theft, however, involved a cruiser with an inboard engine — a boat resembling one which Harris-Moore allegedly stole while fleeing the law in the United States.

Harris-Moore, who grew up in the woods of Washington state’s Camano Island, has been on the run since escaping from a halfway house more than two years ago. The teen had several run-ins with police by the time he was 13 and is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five planes during his run, despite no formal flight training.

Harris-Moore earned the “Barefoot Bandit” nickname because he allegedly went shoeless for some of his crimes and once left behind chalk footprints as his calling card.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here