'Barefoot Bandit' Colton Harris-Moore Ridicules Northwest Cops In Emails From Prison
SEATTLE -- "Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore ridiculed police and prosecutors in emails and phone calls from prison recently, undercutting his claims that he's sorry for his two-year crime spree, the U.S. attorney's office said in court documents filed Tuesday.
The 20-year-old, who awaits federal sentencing, referred to Island County Sheriff Mark Brown as the "king swine," called prosecutors who handled his case "fools," and referred to news reporters as "vermin." The self-taught pilot bragged about his two-year crime spree, during which he hopscotched the U.S. in stolen cars, boats and small planes before being captured in the Bahamas in July 2010 a hail of bullets.
"The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes, is amazing," he wrote in one email last August. "Nobody on this planet have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers."
Federal prosecutors included excerpts from the emails and phone transcripts in a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. Harris-Moore was sentenced last month to more than seven years in prison for a long string of state crimes, mostly on his hometown of Camano Island and in the San Juan Islands, but he is still scheduled to be sentenced on Friday for federal crimes, including stealing planes.
Prosecutors are seeking a six-and-a-half year sentence, the most they can ask for under the terms of Harris-Moore's federal plea deal. His lawyers asked for a sentence of just under six years in their own memorandum filed Tuesday. The plea deal calls for proceeds from a movie deal to be used to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to his victims, and the judge can issue a sentence outside the plea deal's suggested range.
Emma Scanlan, one of Harris-Moore's lawyers, said the excerpts were cherry-picked from more than 700 pages of emails and phone transcripts. None of the excerpts suggests that Harris-Moore doesn't feel sorry for the people he victimized, she noted.
"Maybe he doesn't the like the sheriff's office, maybe he doesn't like the prosecutors," Scanlan said. "But he's recognizing the most important group of people."
Prosecutors said the excerpts offered a striking difference in tone to the apology letter Harris-Moore wrote to the state and federal judges handling his case. In the letter, he said he did not want to glamorize anything he had done, and he apologized profusely to his victims, saying he learned only too late of the fear he was instilling in them. He said his childhood – with an abusive, alcoholic mother and a series of her ex-con boyfriends – was one he would not wish on his "darkest enemies."
He also wrote in the letter that he wanted to apologize to the Island County and San Juan County sheriffs' offices, "who I know were only doing their jobs." In a monitored telephone call Dec. 9, a week before his sentencing, he said he wanted his supporters in the courtroom because "the more people I have from my camp the better, because that's just one less seat that will be filled by the media vermin or the swine, the king swine himself, Mark Brown."
The judge who sentenced Harris-Moore in state court emphasized his difficult childhood, called his case "a triumph of the human spirit" and suggested it's remarkable that he didn't commit worse crimes, given his background.
In an email a few days after the sentence, Harris-Moore recounted the sentencing.
"When all the acting and spreading of high propaganda on the part of the state was over and my lawyers argued the true facts, the judge gave me a much-appreciated recognition and validation, calling my story a `triumph of the human spirit,'" he wrote. "She wasn't having none of the weak argument the prosecution tried to peddle, and ended up handing down a sentence that was the lowest possible within the range. ... Once again, I made it through a situation I shouldn't have."