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Tacoma airline runaway boy in trouble again

A notorious Pierce County 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 Tacoma police after he allegedly stole a yo-yo Friday from an East Side store.

When Tacoma police contacted Semaj outside the store, he first gave the name of his cousin and a student identification number, according to charging documents. Officers later determined his true identity.

The teen – whose names is James spelled backward – first made headlines in January 2007 when, at age 9, he stole a neighbor’s car and led Lakewood police on a high-speed chase that ended when the car’s engine blew.

The next day, he ran away from home and managed to board a Southwest Airlines flight from Sea-Tac Airport to Phoenix and another flight to Texas. He had no boarding pass for either flight.

He got a deferred disposition for the crimes but that was revoked in 2008 after he sneaked out of his house, traveled alone to Sea-Tac Airport, thwarted federal security and got to a departure gate, where he tried to board a plane.

Semaj was convicted of taking a motor vehicle without permission and attempting to elude police officers.

Also in 2008, Semaj pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a law enforcement officer after he broke into a Tacoma apartment and then lied to police who came to investigate. He got credit for the 26 days he’d spent in juvenile detention and was ordered to do four hours of community service and write a letter of apology to police.

Semaj, who is not in custody, is to be arraigned Thursday on the latest charges. If convicted of the gross misdemeanors, he would face up to 12 months of community supervision, 150 hours of community service and 30 days in juvenile detention on each count, deputy prosecutor Fred Wist said.

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

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