Image: Colton Harris-Moore
Tim Aylen  /  AP
Colton Harris-Moore is escorted shackled and handcuffed by Bahamian authorities to the court building in Nassau on Tuesday.
updated 7/13/2010 7:15:07 PM ET 2010-07-13T23:15:07

The American teenager whom police call the "Barefoot Bandit" was extradited back 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 Wednesday. It's likely he will eventually be taken to Seattle, where he was indicted.

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 alleged 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 teen 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.

Relief in Wash. state
His arrest came as a relief to people across rural Camano Island, Washington, 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.

"Her feelings are relief and exhaustion," O. Yale Lewis said. "Obviously, there is enormous interest in this story, and she wants to be careful about how to proceed. But her first concern has been to make sure her son is safe.

"And I think she hasn't given much thought beyond that," he said.

Harris-Moore told police in the Bahamas that he came to the country, located off the Florida coast, because it has so many islands, airports and docks, according to an officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Tried to dupe islanders
The teenager claimed that he told islanders he was trying to get to Cuba so he could throw police off his trail, but he intended to make his way to the Turks and Caicos Islands southeast of the Bahamas, the officer said.

The suspect learned from the Internet that the British territory has a small police force and no marine defense force, according to the officer.

Harris-Moore spent Monday being questioned by investigators. Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade described him as eloquent, calm, cooperative and "obviously a very intelligent young man," but declined to say whether he made any confession.

Kohler's older sister, Sandra Puttmann, of Arlington, was the first relative to hear from Harris-Moore after his arrest Sunday. She said he was "holding up" but scared now that he's in custody for the first time since he walked away from a halfway house south of Seattle.

Puttmann angrily criticized news stories about her nephew, saying reporters typically gloss over his difficult upbringing. She said police routinely accused him of stealing even when he hadn't and school officials didn't give him a chance — something police and school officials have adamantly denied.

Harris-Moore told a psychologist in 2008 that his mother was abusive when she'd been drinking, according to a court document cited Monday by The Herald newspaper of Everett. His father left when he was a toddler, and his stepfather died when he was 7, Kohler has said.

He is accused crimes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau did not respond to queries about the timing of his deportation.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, said Tuesday she expected the U.S. Marshals Service would fly Harris-Moore from Miami to Seattle, where he faces a federal complaint of interstate transportation of stolen property, alleging that he took a plane from Idaho and crashed it in Washington.

"Exactly when he would arrive here is a moving target as far as I know," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: ‘Barefoot bandit’ nabbed after boat chase

  1. Transcript of: ‘Barefoot bandit’ nabbed after boat chase

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: The American teenager known as the "Barefoot Bandit" is finally behind bars tonight. Colton Harris-Moore was nabbed by police in the Bahamas trying to flee in a stolen boat. He had eluded capture for two years, all the while gaining an Internet following for his exploits. NBC 's Peter Alexander has our story tonight from Nassau .

    PETER ALEXANDER reporting: The so-called barefoot bandit, Colton Harris-Moore , arrived in the Bahamian capital Sunday true to his nickname, shoeless, but this time shackled. Police arrested the 19-year-old fugitive wanted for stealing cash, cars and planes in the Caribbean waters before dawn.

    Mr. ELLISON GREENSLADE (Police Commissioner): The suspect, in an effort to evade capture, engaged local police in a high-speed chase by boat in water leading -- in waters leading to Will Key .

    ALEXANDER: Authorities confiscated a handgun and other possible evidence from a cross-country crime spree that included dozens of burglaries lasting two years since Harris-Moore escaped from a halfway house in Washington state . He often left taunting clues like this footprint message for police. Investigators say the six foot 5" suspect arrived in the Bahamas one week ago, crash landing this single-engine plane on Great Abaco Island , 1,000 miles away from where police say he stole it in Indiana . Harris-Moore is blamed for at least seven break-ins in the Bahamas , including one where he was captured on surveillance camera inside Alistair McDonald 's restaurant.

    Mr. ALISTAIR McDONALD: The thing that struck me was he looked very, very calm and at ease. It was like he was strolling into his own place.

    ALEXANDER: Like he owned the place?

    Mr. McDONALD: Like he owned the place, right.

    ALEXANDER: Kate Palatano 's dive shop was victimized, as well, with one significant piece of evidence left behind.

    Ms. KATE PALATANO: It was a perfect handprint. It was so funny because it wasn't like it was accidental, like he accidentally touched something. It was like he went smack up on the window, like `I was here.'

    ALEXANDER: Online, Harris-Moore has become a cult hero of sorts, with his following on Facebook swelling to more than 75,000 fans. On the small Washington state island where he was raised, relief.

    Unidentified Man: He's been elusive for a long, and he's done a lot of damage and I'm just glad they got -- they finally caught him.

    ALEXANDER: Now in custody, Harris-Moore 's next trip could be an extradition flight home. Peter Alexander , NBC News, Nassau.

Timeline: Colton Harris-Moore

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