Barefoot Bandit’ to plead guilty in federal court

Posted June 16, 2011, at 8:57 p.m.

SEATTLE — 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 on Friday 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.

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 a plane from a hangar in 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 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.

 

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