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Imprisoned ‘Barefoot Bandit’ faces new criminal charges

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 9:50 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — SEATTLE — Colton Harris-Moore, who as a teen fugitive made headlines by eluding police between Washington state and the Bahamas for nearly two years, is facing new criminal charges stemming from his crime spree.

Earlier this month, the Skagit County Prosecutor’s Office re-filed charges against Harris-Moore involving the theft of an airplane there in 2010. The charges of second-degree burglary and first-degree theft were filed on Feb. 8 to the surprise of Harris-Moore’s lawyer, John Henry Browne.

When Harris-Moore was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison and three years of probation on Jan. 27, 2012, it marked the culmination of months of discussions between law enforcement and prosecutors from several jurisdictions as well as his defense team. But, Browne said, Skagit County declined to participate in the discussions.

As a result, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to 40 felonies, cooperated with authorities after his arrest in the Bahamas in July 2010, and promised the proceeds of a movie deal to pay for nearly $1.4 million in restitution. Harris-Moore, now 21, is serving time in the Washington Department of Corrections.

Skagit County Prosecutor Rich Weyrich said his office filed identical charges against Harris-Moore in connection with the plane theft, but dropped them in 2011 “to let the other counties deal with what they were dealing with” as part of the large-scale plea negotiations. “We believe he committed a crime in Skagit County and he should be held accountable for it,” Weyrich said Wednesday.

Browne said that Harris-Moore was accused of stealing an airplane from Anacortes and landing it on Orcas Island. The plane, Browne said, sustained little damage.

“It just seems like a horrendous waste of time. I thought Colton was supposed to be the juvenile here. It’s silly,” Browne added.

Between 2008 and 2010, Harris-Moore evaded capture while committing a string of break-ins and thefts.

After reportedly teaching himself to fly by studying flight manuals and websites, Harris-Moore stole several aircraft, including a Cessna in Idaho in September 2009 that he crashed near Granite Falls. He also stole a plane in Indiana and crash-landed it 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.

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