Thursday, February 21, 2013


Almost three years to the day after a stolen plane nearly crashed the 2010 Winter Olympics, Colton Harris-Moore has been charged with the crime. Well, re-charged… 

On February 10, 2010, with security on both sides of the Canadian/Washington State border supposedly on double-extra-super high alert for the Vancouver Olympic games, a red-and-white Cirrus SR22 with the tail number N47LG was stolen from an Anacortes airport in Skagit County, Washington. Air traffic controllers – unaware it had been pirated – tracked the plane on radar from the moment it lifted off. The Cirrus not only flew to the edge of the Olympic no-fly zone, it was also transmitting the wrong transponder codes. Fighter planes stood by ready to scramble, but the order was never given, and the radar contact eventually disappeared over Orcas Island.

The following morning, the $650,000 plane was found stuck in the mud alongside the Orcas Island Airport’s taxiway. Three things made Orcas residents (as well as a host of law enforcement agencies) immediately suspect Colton Harris-Moore.

The SR22 was the same model Colton had stolen the year before for his first night flight – which took off from San Juan Island and also landed on Orcas.

Soon after the Olympic plane landed, there was a high-profile burglary at Orcas Home Grown Market where – after emptying the registers and busting open the surveillance system – Colton had famously spent the time to draw 39 chalk footprints along with a jaunty “C-Ya!”

The third factor that led to suspecting Colton was… well, duh, this was a plane theft.

After Colton was finally caught in July 2010, the theft of the Anacortes Cirrus was included in negotiations when Colton’s defense attorneys, John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlon, attempted to broker a “global” plea deal. Even once the feds split off into a separate deal that included all the crimes charged in states other than Washington, the defense team tried to strike a deal with all the various Washington jurisdictions. After long delays, the Skagit prosecutor finally pulled out of the negotiations and withdrew his charges while reserving the right to arrest CHM for the plane theft at a later date.

That date turned out to be February 8, 2013.   

As far as the outcome if this goes to trial – and Colton’s possible defense against these new old charges… It looks like a tough one to escape for the Barefoot Bandit. Beyond the physical evidence police collected at the scene and the Cirrus’s Pilot Operating Handbook found in the “nest” Colton made in an Orcas hangar, the stickiest fact is that as part of his federal plea agreement, Colton has already admitted to flying Cirrus N47LG from Anacortes to Orcas. He pleaded guilty to piloting that plane without a valid airman’s certificate – a federal offense.

It remains to be seen whether this will add up to more time in prison for Colton or simply be a waste of time and money just to add another concurrent sentence that he can serve along with his federal and Washington State sentences.

Colton currently resides in Stafford Creek Corrections Center serving out his 87-month WA State sentence and his 78-month federal sentence. The Skagit County prosecuting attorney, Rich Weyrich, has reportedly asked a judge to allow for “exceptional” sentencing provisions for these new charges, presumably so he can try for a sentence that will keep Colton Harris-Moore in prison beyond his current time due.

The plane theft would normally carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, with sentencing guidelines bringing that down to five or six years. By my calculations (I’m not a lawyer, so if you’re considering stealing five planes, a dozen boats, a bunch of cars and other stuff, don’t calculate your prison time by my estimates; please consult a real attorney), Colton has about three years left inside on his current sentences, followed by probation. He’s been in custody since July 11, 2010 when he was captured in the Bahamas after a 3 a.m. boat chase that ended when Bahamian police shot out Colt’s escape boat’s engines.

Colton’s flamboyant defense attorney John Henry Browne has responded to the resurrected charges by questioning whether his client or the Skagit prosecutor is the juvenile in this case.  


  1. Bob, please keep us posted on how Colton is doing in prison. Is he dealing with his circumstances in positive ways, such as trying to further his education, and keeping on good behavior? If so, I hope the justice system will consider that, and show mercy and common sense in dealing with the Skagit County prosecutor's actions against Colton.

    It makes a lot more sense to rehabilitate a young offender so he can have a real chance to live a good life and contribute to society in constructive ways. Piling on more and more punishment would be more likely to turn someone into a hardened criminal.

    Does anyone know if the Skagit County prosecutor is planning to run for higher political office? Going after Colton could be his way of trying to make a name for himself. But such plans could backfire if Colton has used his time in prison in positive ways, and will make restitution from the proceeds of the movie. Most people would be sympathetic to Colton if that's the case.

    He's still very young, and I hope he will have a truly fair chance for a good education and a good life too.


  2. BOB thanks alot for the post,,,your the man,,,keep us updated thanks pimp!!hope you and murphy are doin good.