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Barefoot Bandit has plea deal in works

Film, book profits could pay victims

Colton Harris- Moore is reluctant to sell book or movie rights to his story, his lawyer said, but it might help him secure a plea bargain. Colton Harris- Moore is reluctant to sell book or movie rights to his story, his lawyer said, but it might help him secure a plea bargain.
By Gene Johnson
Associated Press / November 19, 2010

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SEATTLE — The attorney for the teenager accused of being the Barefoot Bandit is working with prosecutors to negotiate a plea deal that he said could involve using movie- or book-deal profits to compensate the victims of an alleged two-year, cross-country crime spree.

Colton Harris-Moore, 19, pleaded not guilty yesterday to federal charges that include interstate transportation of stolen aircraft and being a fugitive in possession of a firearm. He earned his moniker by allegedly committing some of the crimes barefoot, and the antics have earned him a popular following on the Internet.

“He’s very reluctant to make a dime off this, he really is,’’ said his lawyer, John Henry Browne.

But Browne said that when he told his client that money from movie or book deals could be used to repay his victims — and incidentally win him a more favorable plea deal, with less time behind bars — “that changed his mind a little bit.’’

Harris-Moore is accused of leading authorities on a cat-and-mouse game in pilfered cars, boats, and small planes after allegedly escaping a halfway house south of Seattle in 2008. This year he made a daring cross-country dash that ended four months ago when he stole a plane in Indiana, crash-landed it in the Bahamas, and was captured by Bahamian police at gunpoint in a stolen boat.

Harris-Moore, who was indicted by a grand jury last week, appeared before US Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler yesterday wearing prison khakis over an orange shirt. He stated his name and year of birth, and frequently looked down during the hearing. He told the judge he understood charges against him: interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, a stolen firearm, and a stolen vessel, as well as being a fugitive in possession of a firearm and piloting an aircraft without a valid airman’s certificate.

Browne entered the not guilty plea on Harris-Moore’s behalf. The attorney told reporters that discussions are in the early stages on a possible deal that could resolve both federal and state charges against Harris-Moore.

Not guilty pleas are typical at this stage, even if defendants intend to plead guilty later.

Four of the five counts against Harris-Moore carry maximum sentences of 10 years in prison, and Browne said that realistically his client could be looking at anywhere from four to 12 years. Trial was set for Jan. 18.

In all, the self-taught pilot is suspected of more than 70 crimes across nine states.

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