Colton Harris-Moore could get nearly 10 years behind bars

  • By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
  • Friday, June 17, 2011 12:26pm
  • Local News

SEATTLE – While federal prosecutors on Friday recommended Colton Harris-Moore be sentenced to more than six years behind bars, a Snohomish County burglary could extend the Barefoot Bandit’s time in prison to nearly a decade.

Harris-Moore, 20

, for the first time Friday admitted he committed a litany of crimes during a two-year, nine-state and three-country spree.

He earned international notoriety for flying planes with no formal training and for running barefoot from some of his crimes.

“Guilty,” the Camano Island man repeated, as Judge Richard A. Jones read off a seven-count federal indictment.

“Mr. Harris-Moore’s flight from justice has ended,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said Friday. “He has taken the first step to accept responsibility for his actions.”

All the federal crimes and the dozens of crimes committed outside of Washington were consolidated into what some are calling an historic plea agreement.

Now Harris-Moore must return to his boyhood home of Island County where he still faces more than 30 felonies committed in Washington, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors on Friday recommended a sentence of up to six-and-a-half years but that time easily could be extended in state court, Durkan said.

Of the dozens of burglaries and thefts at homes and business across the Pacific Northwest, it’s an early October 2009 break-in near Granite Falls that could send Harris-Moore away for nearly 10 years.

He’s expected to face a first-degree burglary charge that includes the theft of .22-caliber pistol, said Greg Banks, the Island County prosecutor.

Although the burglary was committed in Snohomish County, Banks said he’s anticipating adding the charge in Island County out of convenience.

“We are mindful of the time and expense that moving the defendant from county-to-county-to-county would entail,” Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe said.

Snohomish County victims told Roe’s office they were fine with the case moving to Coupeville.

The theft of a GMC Yukon from a Granite Falls-area home also will be added to the pile of charges Harris-Moore faces.

San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord said charges from Skagit, San Juan and Snohomish counties will be consolidated into one case heard in Island County.

That hearing is expected in about five weeks, Banks said.

Harris-Moore is expected to reach a plea agreement with state prosecutors and avoid trial, as he did Friday with the federal government.

Part of the 28-page federal agreement is that Harris-Moore must relinquish any money he makes from selling his story.

He owes more than $1.4 million in restitution, courts documents show. State prosecutors said that number will increase by more than $250,000 should Harris-Moore be convicted of the additional charges.

The victims will be paid back through a court-appointed special master. Seattle attorney Kraig Baker from Davis Wright Tremaine was recommended.

If approved, Baker will supervise all contracts Harris-Moore signs to make movies, books or other deals.

John Henry Browne, Harris-Moore’s defense attorney, said it’s anticipated that the story will generate almost enough to fully repay victims.

Harris-Moore will not personally make a dime off his criminal exploits, Durkan said.

He will remain behind bars at the Federal Detention Center in Seatac until a writ is approved to move him to the Island County Jail in Coupeville.

After the court case there is finished, he’ll be returned to Seatac until he’s sentenced in federal court. The federal judge will determine the penalty Harris-Moore will face for being the Barefoot Bandit.

“Judge Jones will write the final chapter in Colton Harris-Moore’s story here,” Durkan said.

The federal sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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