In a series of jailhouse emails and phone calls from the Federal Detention Center in the city of SeaTac, Harris-Moore variously refers to police as "swine" and "asses," the media as "vermin" and San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord as a "complete fool."
Colton Harris-Moore has had his fingers crossed, federal prosecutors say.
In documents filed in advance of sentencing for the so-called Barefoot Bandit in federal court Friday, the government says that, even as the 20-year-old’s pleas for leniency moved a state judge to sympathy in December, he was mocking law enforcement and boasting about a predicted early release from prison.
In a series of jailhouse emails and phone calls from the Federal Detention Center in the city of SeaTac, Harris-Moore variously refers to police as “swine” and “asses,” the media as “vermin” and San Juan County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord as a “complete fool.”
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Harris-Moore bragged about his crimes, boasted of his skills as a self-taught pilot and likened the performance that won him a low-range state sentence of a little more than seven years to another memorable moment in his life: regaining control of a stolen aircraft that was spinning toward the ground.
“Once again, I made it through a situation I shouldn’t have,” he wrote to a friend identified only as “J.L.” a week after his Dec. 16 sentencing on 33 felony charges before Island County Judge Vickie Churchill.
Days later, in another email to “B.D.,” Harris-Moore said the sentence was at the lowest end of the range and that he expects to serve “less than half of that, too.”
The communications, pulled from hundreds of pages of transcripts of monitored prison telephone calls and emails, raise questions about Harris-Moore’s sincerity and represent a different, darker side than what he was presenting during the earlier sentencing. One federal prosecutor, looking ahead to Friday’s sentencing, notes there are “good reasons” to question Harris-Moore’s remorse for his crimes.
During the December sentencing in Island County on state charges stemming from crimes in three counties, Churchill recounted Harris-Moore’s upbringing as the child of an alcoholic mother left to fend for himself. She called his survival and apparent moral turnaround a “triumph of the human spirit.”
Prosecutors in the three counties — Island, San Juan and Snohomish — had asked for a nearly 10-year sentence, calling Harris-Moore a “menace.”
But a seemingly contrite Harris-Moore told Churchill: “I was wrong, and I made mistakes beyond what words can express. The indelible mark I made on the communities and the fear I caused homeowners, there is no going back.”
In one later email, Harris-Moore wrote: “I won’t be out tomorrow,” referring to prison. “But I have no doubt I will emerge unscathed, with my plans back on track.”
Lawyer Emma Scanlan told The Associated Press that prosecutors were taking some of the emails and phone calls out of context. She said Harris-Moore may not like police or prosecutors, but that doesn’t mean he’s not remorseful to his victims.
His attorneys, in a brief and hundreds of pages of supporting exhibits, ask U.S. District Judge Richard Jones to impose a federal sentence of less than six years.
Portions of transcripts of Harris-Moore’s calls and emails are contained in the government’s sentencing memorandum, which was filed in advance of the Friday sentencing in Seattle.
“There are good reasons to question whether Mr. Harris-Moore’s public expressions of remorse and acceptance of responsibility are entirely genuine,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Darwin Roberts wrote.
Even so, federal prosecutors say they will abide by a plea agreement in which they will recommend that U.S. District Judge Richard Jones impose a sentence of 78 months — 6 ½ years — to run together with the 7 ¼-year state sentence imposed by Churchill.
However, the federal government will ask that Harris-Moore be given no credit for time served since his arrest in the Bahamas in July 2010.
They ask that time he has spent behind bars since his arrest be credited toward the two-year juvenile sentence he was serving when he escaped from a halfway house in 2008 and began a 27-month crime spree that stretched from the San Juan Islands to the Bahamas.
In that time, prosecutors say, Harris-Moore committed 67 state and federal felonies in seven states, including the thefts of three aircraft, nine automobiles and numerous residential burglaries, including one in South Dakota where he threatened to shoot the homeowner in order to escape.
“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.”
Restitution for his crimes will amount to about $1.3 million, which Harris-Moore hopes to pay with money generated from the sale of his life story. He was in possession of three firearms, including an assault rifle stolen from a police officer, Roberts wrote in a 39-page memorandum. He pepper-sprayed another officer on Orcas Island while fleeing a burglary, prosecutors say.
In a reference to the plea agreement that consolidated cases from across the country, Roberts wrote, “The evidence proves Mr. Harris-Moore’s criminal odyssey was carefully planned and entirely intentional. He should not receive any further ‘breaks.’ “
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706
Information from The Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.