August 11, 2011 / 11:23 PM / in 6 years

"Barefoot Bandit" signs movie deal to pay victims

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The 20-year-old convicted burglar dubbed the “Barefoot Bandit” has agreed to a $1.1 million movie deal to pay victims of his crime spree, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Colton Harris-Moore’s agreement with Twentieth Century Fox will allow the convicted felon to share a life story that includes teaching himself to fly, stealing planes, taunting authorities and going shoeless.

Harris-Moore, a high school dropout who grew up north of Seattle on Camano Island and the San Juan islands, was accused of a string of sometimes barefoot burglaries in several states.

He used stolen boats and planes to stay one step ahead of authorities on his trail.

He pleaded guilty in June to several federal charges, including two counts of bank burglary, two counts of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft and piloting an aircraft without a valid license.

Harris-Moore faces a sentence of over six years in prison under his plea agreement with prosecutors, who have insisted that any film deal benefit his victims.

The movie agreement with Fox is worth $1.1 million, and Harris-Moore believes it is enough to pay off his victims, said his attorney Lance Rosen, who negotiated the deal.

Federal prosecutors estimate Harris-Moore owes $1.4 million in restitution, but Rosen said his client believes the actual figure is lower and will seek to prove that in court.

Fox already has started working on a film script about Harris-Moore, who was concerned the studio would go ahead with a project without his approval, Rosen said.

“It’s better to work with them, not because he wants the attention or glory -- because that would happen anyway with any movie that is made,” Rosen said.

“He wants the restitution” money for victims, Rosen said.

A representative for Fox declined comment.

Harris-Moore released a statement from a federal jail in Washington state to explain his movie deal.

“In due time, I hope to earn the forgiveness of my neighbors and community, and everyone else I’ve hurt,” he said in the statement. “I will continue to do everything in my power to make things better.”

Harris-Moore was captured in the Bahamas in July 2010 after crash-landing a stolen plane.

Despite his federal plea agreement, he still faces state charges in several Washington counties.

Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for penning the 2008 film “Milk,” has worked on turning the Barefoot Bandit’s story into a movie script, Rosen said.

Under the film deal, a screenwriter will meet with Harris-Moore at the prison at least once so that he can share his story, Rosen said, adding that the warden will decide if any additional meetings can be held.

“Colton would prefer to fly down into L.A. but they won’t let him,” Rosen joked.

Editing by Jerry Norton

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