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Barefoot Bandit signs movie deal; proceeds to go to victims

Colton Harris-Moore after his arrest in the Bahamas on July 11, 2010.  - AP photo
Colton Harris-Moore after his arrest in the Bahamas on July 11, 2010.
— image credit: AP photo

When Colton Harris-Moore signed on the dotted line with 20th Century Fox, it was with one objective: make enough money to pay back his burglary victims, he says.

“I said that I would cooperate with a movie company only if an agreement would assure full recovery for the victims whose property I invaded and stole,” Harris-Moore said in a statement released by his attorneys.

Harris-Moore, who is currently being held in a federal detention center in Seattle, signed a movie deal worth as much as $1.3 million. Known as the Barefoot Bandit, his exploits grabbed national headlines during an alleged two-year crime spree that spanned nine states and prompted an international manhunt. He was arrested on July 11, 2010 in the Bahamas. His owes his victims an estimated $1.4 million in damages.

In June, Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to seven federal charges, including plane and boat theft and bank burglary. As part of his plea agreement, he consented to using proceeds made from movie or books deals to pay restitution. He still faces more than 30 charges in Washington state. The charges from Snohomish County, San Juan County and Island County will be consolidated in Island County Superior Court. He's set to be sentenced in federal court on October 28. His attorneys say they are “hopeful his total sentence will not exceed 10 years.”

“I am humbled to know I can now help the people I hurt, at least for the financial damage I caused them. I have absolutely zero interest in profiting from any of this and I won’t make a dime off it,” Harris-Moore said in his statement. “It all goes to restitution. That’s what I insisted on from the beginning and the contract I signed guarantees it.”

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the award-winning film “Milk,” is working on the script.

“This movie deal has been in the works for months,” said Emma Scanlan, one of Harris-Moore's attorneys. “We were waiting on the sign-off from the U.S. Attorney's office. We are hopeful that the restitution will get paid based on this effort.”

Jason Linnes, manager of Island Market on Orcas, thinks the movie deal is fantastic.

"Getting restitution on something like this is generally unheard of," he said.

On Sept. 7, 2009, Island Market sustained $25,000 worth of damage when a pallet driver was used to bash in the ATM and six interior doors were vandalized in what appeared to be an attempt to locate security cameras.

Six days later, Linnes' 28-foot boat was stolen from Brandt's Landing on Orcas. It was taken to Point Roberts, where it was abandoned. The boat sustained around $2,000 in damage.

"I am happy about the movie deal as long as Colton gets none of the money," Linnes said.

Colton Harris-Moore's full statement:

I am writing this from the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Wash. This statement is primarily for my neighbors and the communities of Camano Island and the San Juan Islands, where I was born and raised, and the people there with whom I have the closest connections.

I want to explain why I have just signed an agreement with a movie studio for my so called “life story” rights. First and foremost, I am grateful beyond words that nobody was physically hurt by my dangerous and careless actions. I know too that I am lucky to be alive. I did things that were not only a violation of law, but also of trust. I can’t undo what I did. I can only try to make things better.

It may not be obvious but the reason I signed the movie agreement is simple. I said that I would cooperate with a movie company only if an agreement would assure full recovery for the victims whose property I invaded and stole. It took months of negotiations but they were successful. I am humbled to know I can now help the people I hurt, at least for the financial damage I caused them. I have absolutely zero interest in profiting from any of this and I won’t make a dime off it. It all goes to restitution. That’s what I insisted on from the beginning and the contract I signed guarantees it.

No one forced or pressured to accept these terms. It was my idea – before the government knew about it. I learned that the “Son of Sam” laws do not apply in my case because none of my crimes involved violence, so I didn’t have to sign this agreement. I signed it only out of my hope to help make things right, as best I can. Getting money to my victims is the least I can do, and because of my situation it is probably the best I can do.

In due time I hope to earn the forgiveness of my neighbors and community, and everyone else I’ve hurt. I will continue to do everything in my power to make things better. My commitment to that endeavor is what keeps me going.

 

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