MIAMI — The American man who police call the "Barefoot Bandit" was deported to the United States on Tuesday, just hours after he pleaded guilty to a minor offense in the Bahamas.
Law enforcement officials escorted Colton Harris-Moore on a commercial flight to Miami to face prosecution for a two-year string of break-ins and plane thefts across the United States. The FBI took him off the plane and put him into a waiting car. Officials said the 19-year-old convict was taken to a federal jail in Miami, where he is scheduled to have an initial court appearance today. It's likely he will eventually be taken to Seattle, where he was indicted.
Harris-Moore was on the plane with Bahamian authorities as well as FBI agents, but he did not know FBI agents were aboard, said John Gillies, FBI special agent in charge of the Miami office. The FBI did not have any authority to arrest Harris-Moore in the Bahamas and waited until he reached Miami to take him into custody, Gillies said.
Earlier Tuesday, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in the Bahamas to illegally entering the country. He had been arrested in the island country Sunday following a high-speed boat chase.
The charge stemming from his crash of a stolen plane on Great Abaco Island carried a $300 fine. His lawyer, Monique Gomez, said the U.S. Embassy would pay it. Gomez said Harris-Moore wanted to go home.
The shackled man smiled after the judge read the sentence. Bahamian police had earlier said that he would face other charges including illegal weapons possession related to a string of break-ins and thefts during his weeklong hideout in the country.
Harris-Moore wore white sneakers without laces and kept his head down as armed officers escorted him to the courthouse. A police SWAT team stood by as authorities put up street barricades ahead of the hearing for the celebrity suspect.
Authorities say he earned the "Barefoot Bandit" nickname by committing some crimes while shoeless, and in February he allegedly drew chalk-outline feet all over the floor of a grocery store during a burglary in Washington's San Juan Islands.
Harris-Moore is suspected in about 70 property crimes across eight states and British Columbia, many of them in the bucolic islands of Washington state. He is accused of stealing a plane from an Indiana airport to fly to the Bahamas. His mother, Pam Kohler, seemed relieved.
"I'm really tired," Kohler said from her home on Camano Island, Wash. "Yes, I look forward to seeing him."
Asked what she planned to say to her son when she saw him, she said angrily, "What kind of question is that?" and hung up the phone.
His arrest came as a relief to people across rural Camano Island, Wash., where authorities say he learned to dodge police.
"There's a lot of relief throughout the community," said real estate agent Mark Williams. "I think the man's luck just wore out. You run through the woods long enough, you're going to trip over a log."
Residents of the island also lashed out at the teen's mother this week, saying her decision to hire a well-known Seattle lawyer suggests she's trying to profit from a crime spree that police say took her son from the cedar trees in Washington to the bright beaches of the Bahamas.
"Of course she wants the money. She doesn't work," said Joshua Flickner, whose family owns an island grocery store. "What makes me more angry than the fact that she's trying to profit off this is that there's any profit to be had."
The mother's attorney downplayed any profit motive, saying Kohler contacted him for advice after being inundated by requests from news reporters as well as inquiries about book and movie deals.
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