'Barefoot Bandit' Colton Harris-Moore Deported to Miami

Colton Harris-Moore initially faces one federal charge upon arriving in U.S.

July 13, 2010, 1:43 PM

July 13, 2010— -- The "Barefoot Bandit" is back on U.S. soil tonight, after being deported from the Bahamas, where he was caught in a high-speed boat chase.

Colton Harris-Moore pleaded guilty today in a Bahamian court to a relatively minor charge of illegal entry into the country, and then was put on a commercial flight to Miami, accompanied by federal law enforcement officials, The Associated Press reported.

When he arrived in Miami, FBI agents took the 19-year-old to a federal jail. He is scheduled to have an initial court appearance Wednesday, but it is expected that he will be taken to Seattle, where he was indicted.

Instead of the extradition process many expected, he was simply deported though the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Harris-Moore's lawyer in the Bahamas, Monique Gomez, said after the guilty plea that the young man whose alleged two-year crime spree included plane and boat thefts just wanted to go home.

Now a slew of federal officials begin the complicated process of sorting out a lengthy list of crimes that span half the country.

Western District of Washington spokeswoman Emily Langlie told ABC News that Harris-Moore will appear in federal court in Miami, the closest district to where he was apprehended, on a single count of interstate transportation of stolen goods. The charge was filed in December 2009, stemming from an incident in which a plane was stolen from Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, and crashed in Granite Falls.

The judge will decide bond for Harris-Moore, basing it according to his flight risk and danger to the community.

"I think the expectation in any detention hearing is the government will argue that Colton Harris-Moore is a flight risk," Langlie said. "I think he's proven that."

Harris-Moore's highly publicized exploits came to an end Sunday when he was taken into custody by Bahamian police after a high-speed boat chase off Harbor Island. The arrest capped off more than two years on the run in which he achieved a folk hero-type following from tens of thousands of Internet fans, even as he left a growing trail of increasingly brazen crimes in his wake.

His trip the the Bahamas, the FBI said, came aboard a Cessna 400 that was crashed into the shallow waters of the Caribbean several hours after it was stolen from a hangar in Bloomington, Ind.

After appearing in the Miami court, Harris-Moore will be sent to a federal detention center there to await transport to Seattle, with U.S. Marshals as escorts.

Langlie said she expected additional charges against Harris-Moore would be added when federal officials seek a grand jury indictment, but she said her office was still working with other federal districts to inquire about possibly consolidating all the federal charges against Harris-Moore into the Western District of Washington.

Her office is also in contact with local prosecutors, who can decide between working with the U.S. Attorney's Office or proceeding with their own criminal complaints.

The bandit's last moments of freedom on Harbor Island appeared to have been filled with panic.

Kenny Strachan, security director of the Romora Bay Marina where Harris-Moore was taken into custody, told ABCNews.com that he first spotted someone who appeared to be a teenager racing away from the boats toward the exit of the marina. Strachan caught up with him and realized that it was the same person whose face had been plastered all over the Bahamas, fleeing with a gun.

When police learned that Harris-Moore had snaked his way back to the marina and climbed aboard a boat that had the keys left inside, police borrowed a yacht from a marina patron and chased the bandit down.

"Everyone was screaming, 'You're caught. Put down your weapon ... Stop,'" said Jordan Sackett, who helped catch the fugitive. "He proceeded to put the weapon to his head ... saying, 'I'm going to kill myself. ... I won't go back to jail. I can't go back to jail.'"

Police fired on the stolen boat, disabling one engine with a shotgun and the other with a Uzi.

"The FBI told the Bahamian police to stop this guy at any cost," said William Sport, who owned the boat commandeered by police. "The cost is going to be my boat."

As police advanced, Harris-Moore began throwing his possessions overboard, including the gun and a laptop. Both were later recovered by police.

By 3:15 a.m., Harris-Moore was taken off the bullet-ridden boat and into custody.

"He was scared as it was happening but once it calmed down, once the shooting was over ... he was very nonchalant ... like he didn't care it had happened," Sackett said.

'Barefoot Bandit' Eluded Police From Pacific Northwest to Bahamas

Dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" for his penchant for allegedly breaking and entering sans shoes, Harris-Moore had eluded police in the Pacific Northwest for well over a year before apparently branching out to the Midwest and then to the Bahamas.

He is suspected of committing a series of crimes -- from burglary to boat and plane thefts -- in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana. Police in the Bahamas said there's evidence he committed burglaries on the island.

All the way, he seemed to taunt police, leaving chalk footprints and sometimes a picture of himself. Earlier this year he left $100 for a Washington animal hospital. The veterinarian there told ABC News that when police seized the money as evidence, Harris-Moore's mother, Pam Kohler, replaced the money with $100 of her own.

Kohler, who has made comments in support of her son in the past, issued a statement after his arrest saying she was relieved her son was safe and that no one was hurt. She said she hasn't seen her son in more than two years, but she's looking forward to seeing him soon.

Legal experts say Harris-Moore will likely be extradited to the United States after he faces charges in the Bahamas.

The Associated Press today quoted Bahamian Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade as saying that Harris-Moore would stand trial on weapons possession and other charges, some of them likely to include his suspected involvement in a string of burglaries there.

Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne, who said he's been hired by Harris-Moore's mother, did not return messages seeking comment, but told ABC's Seattle affiliate KOMO that he would like to see the numerous local and federal charges against the teen be consolidated in federal court in Seattle.

Browne told the affiliate that he has been in contact with the U.S. consulate in the Bahamas.

"He was, I think, upset, but understandably," Browne said of Harris-Moore. "I think he's doing OK."

Back in the Pacific Northwest, the arrest of "Barefoot Bandit" drew cheers from some of his alleged victims and tears from his fans.

A Facebook page dedicated to Harris-Moore today boasted more than 75,000 fans.

"Dude bummer that u got caught," one poster wrote, 'but u made history and no one will forget that."

"Dang Colton," wrote another, "I was for sure you were NEVER going to get caught!!! Shucks!!!"

Harris-Moore's supporters recently began preparing for his arrest.

Shauna Snyder, who describes herself on her Web site as a criminal defense investigator and owner of Skepteon Investigations, is collecting the donations for Harris-Moore's legal defense fund.

"It is confirmed that Colton has been arrested in the Bahamas," Snyder wrote on her Web page dedicated to Harris-Moore. "Please donate to help protect Colton's rights."

She declined to tell ABCNews.com how much she had collected for the teen.

"Donations have been coming in," she said, "and there's been a lot of interest."

She wrote on her Web site that she met Harris-Moore while working on his defense team when he was 16 years old. She described him as a "friendly, polite and intelligent kid."

Kohler also posted a plea for donations, saying her son has been wrongly accused of crimes since he was a child.

"Now there's not a break-in or a theft in the entire Northwest that the media or law enforcement doesn't rush to pin on Colt," said Kohler in her online plea.

"We have no way of knowing what charges will be filed against Colt. The media has already convicted him as 'the Barefoot Bandit' and created widespread accusations and perception of guilt," the statement continued. "Eventually, though, Colt will have to fight for his freedom against the full force of the legal system."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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