Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another Quick Colton Harris-Moore Update

According to San Juan County prosecutor Randy Gaylord, the victims of the Anacortes plane theft (which Colton Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to once but is now being charged with a second time by Skagit County) are indeed already on the restitution list.

Says Gaylord: “The restitution order included $27,606.12 to Global Aerospace for repair of the 2008 Cirrus SR-22, N47LG (parts and labor)."

Global Aerospace is a California-based insurance company that specializes in aviation. They, presumably, held the policy on the Anacortes Cirrus and already reimbursed the plane's owners for the repairs, and thus they would be the ones eligible to seek restitution from Colton. 

For now, Harris-Moore's best chance to pay that restitution, which totals more than $1.3 million, lies with a potential movie deal where 20th Century Fox agreed to pay for Colton's life rights, with all of his proceeds going to the crime victims.   


Answer: Colton Harris-Moore

Question: Who cannot be charged (again) for the theft of the Cirrus SR22 from Anacortes airport?

Oops goes the prosecutor… Not only did the Barefoot Bandit plead guilty to the federal crime of piloting the Anacortes Cirrus without an airman’s cert, the charge was also a last-minute addition to the collection of capers wrapped up in Colton’s Washington State plea deal. Since the plane landed on Orcas Island in San Juan County, our prosecutor out here, Randy Gaylord, added the crime under his jurisdiction.  

The good news for Colton is that this means Skagit County cannot try him for a crime he’s already pleaded guilty to and is serving time for.

Bad news for Colt is that Skagit filed two charges, one for the plane and another for breaking into the airport to get the plane. That charge was not included in the previous deal and could be prosecuted.

The airport charge, though, is burglary in the second-degree. First timers found guilty of this charge in Washington State usually don’t even go to jail. Folks with slight criminal records might get a few months. Colton, of course, has a book-length rap sheet at this point. The Skagit prosecuting attorney also asked for “exceptional” sentencing provisions, which means the judge could go above guidelines. In the big book (the one that they throw at you) most felony charges, including burglary 2, carry a ten-year max.

So the question is: When someone from Skagit County heads down to the court to take back the paperwork for the first degree plane theft charge, do they just quietly grab the entire packet and drop the whole thing? By filing a charge that will be dismissed due to double jeopardy statutes it shows that they haven’t spent too much time yet doing research on the case. If they release the other count, they can drop the risk that they’ll waste taxpayers’ money on a prosecution that seems likely not to add any time to Colton’s sentence.

As for the victims… presumably the Anacortes plane owners (or their insurance company) are already even on the restitution list. I’m checking that now.     

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.