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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Serial robber gets 10 years in prison

A 20-year-old man who as a teenager terrorized Spokane payday loan stores in a drug-fueled armed robbery spree was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday.

Before Zachary T. Allen apologized for his crimes, family members described a sweet boy with a bright future who lost his way to the prescription drug OxyContin.

“I sincerely wish everyone had a chance to know Zach like I know him, before the bad influence of people and drugs,” said his older sister, Kiley Allen.

Testimony from Allen’s family came after a court official read a prepared statement from a clerk was so terrorized by Allen that she quit her job at a north Spokane payday loan center and has reoccurring nightmares.

“In my dream, I didn’t make it out of the situation alive,” Jennifer Counts wrote.

Allen’s robberies came at the height of Spokane’s OxyContin-fueled crimes –which has included dozens of robberies by mostly young men with no criminal records.

He and his then-girlfriend, Kimberley A. Norman, went on a month-long robbery spree in January 2009 that led some stores to lock their doors and demand customers to show identification before entering. Even then, Allen tried robbing one of the businesses – screaming and banging on the door as the clerk hid.

The two were arrested Feb. 6, 2009, after police detectives identified them through confidential informants, high school yearbooks and MySpace postings, according to court documents.

“You made some choices that horrified this community and terrified this community,” said Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno before approving a plea deal Wednesday that sends Allen to prison for 129 months.

Read the rest of my story: Serial robber sentenced to 10 years

Previous coverage:

Robbery spree haunts clerks, prosecutor says

OxyContin robberies will continue, police fear

Measures aim to halt hold ups

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.