‘Barefoot Bandit’ heads to court amid echoes of ‘fools,’ ‘swine’


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The ‘Barefoot Bandit’ heads to court Friday morning in Seattle, just days after a memorandum from federal prosecutors detailing emails in which Colton Harris-Moore called prosecutors and police ‘swine,’ ‘fools’ and ‘asses.’

Harris-Moore, 20, is set to appear in federal court for sentencing in a two-year string of airplane, car, boat and equipment thefts from Washington state to the Bahamas. It’s a cross-country dash that included stealing a plane in Indiana and crash-landing it off the Caribbean islands and, ultimately, led to a movie deal.


Harris-Moore was arrested in a dramatic, pre-dawn confrontation with police in July 2010 in the Bahamas.

As The Times’ Kim Murphy reported at the time, he jumped into a 30-foot boat and roared away, but he quickly ran aground in shallow water. Police moved in and shot at the engine, bringing the boat to a halt and leaving the then-19-year-old with nowhere to run:

Harris-Moore threw his laptop and iPhone into the water and briefly held the gun to his head, said Anne Ward, manager of the resort, who was nearby. ‘He was saying he was going to kill himself,’ she said. ‘But they talked him out of it, subdued him and brought him back to our marina.’

Colton Harris-Moore was contrite and remorseful before a Washington state judge in December, saying how sorry he was for his two-year crime spree.

Tuesday’s memorandum from prosecutors painted a different picture:

‘The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes, is amazing. Nobody on this planet [could] have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers,’ Harris-Moore said in a private email, monitored by authorities, last August from the federal detention center in Seattle.

Prosecutors said in the memo that Harris-Moore ‘called his sentencing ‘political,’ meant to ‘appease’ the ‘citizens and sheriffs’; and called the prosecution and police ‘swine,’ ‘fools’ and ‘asses.’ ‘

Harris-Moore’s lawyer says prosecutors ‘cherry-picked’ the messages from among her client’s emails and phone transcripts, adding that most of those reflected his genuine remorse.

In August, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Harris-Moore’s story for about $1 million. Harris-Moore signed the film deal with the stipulation that the money go to compensating his victims, according to an attorney who negotiated the deal.


Damning emails revealed

‘Barefoot Bandit,’ in the movies

Lawyers say he was fleeing a nightmarish childhood

-- Amy Hubbard