Colton Harris-Moore, the suspected “Barefoot Bandit,” pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges stemming from an international crime spree.
Harris-Moore, who cultivated an online following based on his suspected alias as the “Barefoot Bandit,” pleaded not guilty to six federal charges in a U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash. on Thursday morning. The Herald (based in Everett, Wash.) reported that this plea is expected to be a temporary move until a guilty plea bargain can be arranged between Harris-Moore’s lawyers and state prosecutors some time in the next week. The sticking point in the negotiations is reportedly whether or not the suspected Barefoot Bandit can auction off his story.
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Harris-Moore led authorities on a two-year international chase that included him stealing boats, planes and cars — committing many of those crimes without wearing shoes. These crimes and his ability to elude capture earned him a popular online following, until was eventually caught in the Bahamas last summer.
In addition to 30 separate Washington state felony charges, prosecutors have charged Harris-Moore with bank burglary, interstate transportation of a stolen plane, gun, and boat, possession a firearm as a fugitive and piloting an aircraft without proper certification.
But lawyers for America’s favorite unshod vagabond announced Wednesday before the court hearing that federal prosecutors denied requests to option film rights to tales of vehicular theft and life on the lam. His lawyer, John Henry Browne, told the Associated Press that the prosecutors denied the request for a movie or book deal even if the money from the sale is solely used to repay victims.
Although Browne said that his client does not deny the criminal allegations, he said Harris-Moore never wanted to profit from his crime spree. Therefore, Browne said, the Bandit would be more than willing to repay his victims with the proceeds from selling his story.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle, has not commented publicly on the ongoing plea negotiations, but Browne said a movie or book deal is the most sensible option for a plea bargain.
“If the victims don’t get paid, it’s not going to be Colton’s fault,” Browne told the AP. “There are going to be movies and books about this case anyway, so the government is not going to minimize what Colton did. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Along with his legal charges, a federal indictment returned in May requires that Harris-Moore forfeit “any and all intellectual property or other proprietary rights belonging to the defendant” based on the publication of his story.
Harris-Moore grew up on Camano Island north of Seattle where he quickly developed a reputation for breaking the law. Before he began his two-year crime spree, he had already been convicted of theft, burglary, malicious mischief and assault.
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