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'Barefoot Bandit' Is Back in US After Guilty Plea

Jul 13, 2010 – 4:53 PM
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David Lohr

David Lohr Senior Crime Reporter

(July 13) -- Colton Harris-Moore, the accused "Barefoot Bandit," appeared before a Bahamian chief magistrate and pleaded guilty to a single count of illegal entry into the country.

The charge carries a $300 fine or three months in jail, but authorities immediately deported Harris-Moore back to the United States, The Associated Press reported. Harris-Moore was escorted on a commercial flight to Miami by law enforcement officials on Tuesday.

None of the numerous other potential charges -- including illegal weapons possession -- that Bahamian police cited earlier this week was filed against Harris-Moore. As of Tuesday afternoon, officials had not commented on the reason.

"They most likely believe or have been assured that the U.S. will hold him fully accountable," Anne Bremner, a Seattle attorney and legal analyst, told AOL News. "This became a simple deportation [and] extradition, and prosecution was not necessary. They don't need to waste their resources and/or have another Bahamian court trial or expensive media circus saga."
Colton Harris-Moore, the teenage fugitive police have dubbed the
Tim Aylen, AP
Colton Harris-Moore, aka the "Barefoot Bandit," was deported to the U.S. after pleading guilty to a single count of illegal entry into the Bahamas. Here, he is escorted by Bahamian authorities to the court building in Nassau on Tuesday.

The Camano Island, Wash., teen is accused of hundreds of burglaries and the theft of several airplanes and a $450,000 yacht, amassing a huge Internet fan following along the way. He earned his nickname by allegedly pulling off his capers while wearing no shoes.

Harris-Moore's capture in the Bahamas on Sunday capped a two-year manhunt, with his downfall coming after he allegedly stole a boat and two witnesses reported him to police. A high-speed pursuit ensued, during which Harris-Moore allegedly held a gun to his head and threatened to end his own life. The chase came to a more peaceful end, however, when authorities shot out the motor on his boat. The suspect was then led away -- shackled and shoeless.

Earlier this week, Harris-Moore's attorney, John Henry Browne, told NBC's "Today" show he would like to see Harris-Moore's alleged crimes -- which are believed to span at least eight states and two countries -- consolidated in a Seattle federal court.

That would not only save authorities an "administrative nightmare," Browne said, but would also allow Harris-Moore to reach a plea deal with prosecutors. In that case, Browne said, the teen could receive a sentence of four to 12 years.

But while the federal charges could be consolidated, they're just the tip of the iceberg, prominent Los Angeles attorney John A. Greaves said.

"He may only get four years [on the federal crimes], but then he's facing state crimes, and some of these other states are going to want to take a crack at him," he said.

Greaves, a seasoned airline accident lawyer, added that Harris-Moore may also have to deal with lawsuits filed on behalf of his victims.

"This guy is in real trouble," Greaves said. If Harris-Moore is found guilty, "there's going to be a lot of people -- especially the owners of the wrecked planes [he allegedly stole] -- wanting compensation."
Filed under: Nation, World, Crime
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