5 split reward for Harris-Moore capture

  • By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

Five men who last summer helped Bahamian authorities capture Colton Harris-Moore, the “Barefoot Bandit,” have split a $10,000 FBI reward.

Jordan Sackett celebrated the cash reward.

“Bottoms up,” he said in an e-mail.

FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt confirmed the reward fund payout but offered few details.

“The $10,000 reward money was paid out to people directly involved in (Harris-Moore’s) capture,” Gutt said.

Sackett said the reward money was split among Capt. Ronald Billiot, Capt. Patrick Young, Capt. Ben Johnson and Kenny Strachan, a security guard at the Romora Bay Resort.

Strachan first encountered Harris-Moore late on July 10. Harris-Moore was wanted by Bahamian officials and the FBI for two-year string of burglaries and thefts that included five planes, dozens of cars and boats.

The Camano Island man is suspected of piloting a stolen high-end Cessna on July 4 from Bloomington, Ind., to the Bahamas where the small plane crashed in a mangrove swamp.

Harris-Moore has no formal flight training. He turns 20 on Tuesday and remains locked up in isolation at the Federal Detention Center SeaTac awaiting trial.

After the plane crash in the Bahamas, a manhunt was launched and the FBI posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to Harris-Moore’s arrest.

Strachan said he immediately recognized the notorious fugitive when he spotted him running through the resort’s marina. When Harris-Moore refused the security guard’s help, Strachan called authorities.

Police swarmed the area looking for the 6-foot, 5-inch tall American.

At around 2 a.m. Harris-Moore jumped in a small boat and sped off.

Police asked the owners of a tender if they could use the boat to give chase. The tender belonged to the luxury yacht Picasso, owned by Sackett’s father.

With permission granted, Sackett, Billiot, Young and Johnson joined police in the boat chase. They found Harris-Moore aground on a sandbar.

As Harris-Moore’s boat began to float free, authorities opened fire on its outboards, disabling the boat and allowing police to put the Barefoot Bandit in handcuffs.

“It was extraordinary excitement to bring him back,” Strachan has said. “They caught him.”

Harris-Moore is facing a five-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Seattle, plus more than a dozen felony charges in three counties in Washington and in Nebraska.

His trial is set for July 11, exactly a year after his arrest.

John Henry Browne, Harris-Moore’s defense attorney, said he has been working toward a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. No deal has been announced.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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