20th Century Fox has ponied up the money in exchange for the rights to Colton Harris-Moore’s story about his two-year life on the run from the law
A Hollywood studio has ponied up more than $1 million to the federal government to pay the restitution owed by Colton Harris-Moore, the fabled “Barefoot Bandit” whose life on the run from the law is headed for the big screen.
The studio, 20th Century Fox, wrote a check for $900,000 to the U.S. Marshal’s office earlier this month, the final payment of court-ordered restitution, mostly to pay for three small airplanes the then-teenaged Harris-Moore stole and crash landed, and a boat he hijacked in the Bahamas while evading capture.
That money is added to $135,558 paid to the court by the studio in 2012 and completes the restitution Harris-Moore owes. The money is in exchange for his agreement to “forfeit the intellectual property rights” for his story, according to court documents.
A book and a documentary of his exploits already have been published.
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Harris-Moore was sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison in 2012 for the theft of the airplanes, a boat and guns during an audacious crime spree that began when he escaped from a Renton juvenile halfway house in 2008 while serving a sentence for a burglary on Camano Island.
For the next two years, he evaded capture while committing a string of break-ins and thefts, according to law-enforcement officials, often leaving a telltale bare footprint at the scene as a signature.
During much of that time, the gangly youth hid out in the forests of Orcas Island in the San Juans and squatted in the attic of a plane hangar at the island’s airport. Eventually, he flew a stolen plane from Washington across the country to the Bahamas, where he was captured.
The Internet made Harris-Moore a cult hero, and at one time he had nearly 50,000 followers on his Facebook page, where he would occasionally leave a post written on a stolen laptop.
He eluded a massive manhunt, and police warned that he was dangerous. Among his crimes were the thefts and interstate transportation of at least two stolen handguns, and police say he took an assault rifle from a police car.
Harris-Moore said he taught himself how to fly using flight manuals and a computer flight simulator, according to court documents.
While he was able to get the three planes off the ground and pilot them, sometimes in bad weather, he had a tougher time with the landings: Harris-Moore crashed all three of them, acknowledging in defense documents that he nearly died in a September 2009 crash of a stolen Cessna that went down near Granite Falls in Snohomish County.
During his 2012 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, Harris-Moore said his dream of flying was the only thing that saved him from the nightmare of a childhood of neglect at the hands of an abusive alcoholic mother. He said some of the burglaries he committed were done so he could steal food so he wouldn’t starve.
Harris-Moore — who was just 20 at the time — told Jones he was terrified much of the time he was on the run. “I should have died years ago,” he said.
The federal sentence was set to run concurrently with a 7½-year sentence imposed in a state court for a series of home and business burglaries.