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Well-known runaway Semaj Booker faces new criminal charges

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Oct. 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm |
October 19, 2010 3:19 pm

Pierce County’s notorious runaway is in trouble again.

Semaj Booker, now 13, was charged last week with third-degree theft and making a false or misleading statement to police after he allegedly stole a yo-yo Oct. 8 from an East Side store. When Tacoma police officers contacted him outside the store, Semaj first gave them the name of his cousin and a student identification number.

Semaj, who is not in custody, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Thursday.

Semaj first made headlines in January 2007 when, at the age of 9, he stole a neighbor’s car and led Lakewood police on a high-speed chase. He ran away from home the next day and managed to board a Southwest Airlines flight from Sea-Tac Airport to Phoenix and another flight to Texas without a boarding pass either time.

He originally received a deferred disposition for the crimes but that was revoked in 2008 after Semaj sneaked out of his house, traveled along to Sea-Tac Airport, thwarted federal security and got to a departure gate where he tried to board another plane. Semaj was convicted  of taking a motor vehicle without permission and attempting to elude police officers.

In 2008, Semaj also pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a law enforcement officer after he broke into an apartment. He got credit for the 26 days he served in juvenile detention and was ordered to perform four hours of community service and write a letter of apology to Tacoma police.

The recent charges are both gross misdemeanors, deputy prosecutor Fred Wist said. If convicted, Semaj faces up to 12 months of community supervision, up to 150 hours of community service and up to 30 days in juvenile detention on each count.

At the time of his arrest, Semaj was not on active supervision from his previous convictions, Wist said.

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