Wash. county to drop theft charge against 'Barefoot Bandit'

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. - Skagit County prosecutors said Thursday they are planning to drop a theft charge against Colton Harris-Moore, in a case that stems from the so-called Barefoot Bandit's two-year run from the law.

Harris-Moore, 22, the youthful thief who gained international notoriety during this crime spree, has acknowledged dozens stealing planes, cars and boats. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison as part of a 2011 plea deal resolving charges against him in three Washington counties.

But Skagit County prosecutors filed an additional first-degree theft and second-degree burglary charge against him, saying they wanted him to answer for his crimes in a local courtroom.

Now Harris-Moore's attorney is fighting the new round of charges, insisting they amount to "double jeopardy" and vindictiveness on the part of the Skagit County Prosecutor's Office.

Then in court on Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor Eric Peterson said the county is planning to drop the first-degree theft charge against Harris-Moore for stealing a Cirrus airplane from Anacortes in Skagit County in February 2010 and flying it to Orcas Island in San Juan County.

He said the charge would be dropped before the next scheduled hearing on May 8.

However, there was no immediate word on whether the prosecutor would drop the burglary charge against Harris-Moore for breaking into the airport.

Defense attorney John Henry Browne said he believes that charge will also be dropped eventually.

The only other outstanding charge against Harris-Moore, in Nebraska, was dropped last week.

Harris-Moore led authorities on a two-year game of cat-and-mouse in stolen cars, boats and airplanes. His run ended in 2010 after he crash-landed a stolen plane in the Bahamas and was arrested on a stolen boat in a hail of bullets.

He earned his nickname of "Barefoot Bandit" after his bare footprints were found at some crime scenes.