WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge sentenced a Huntley man to four years in prison for robbing a McHenry payday loan store with a BB gun.
Alize Q. Smith, 20, pleaded guilty in February to one count of aggravated robbery, a Class 1 felony. Smith faced probation or up to 15 years in prison.
Judge Michael Feetterer said during a sentencing hearing Friday that while he considered the fact that Smith had no prior criminal history and was a young adult who had a caring mother, he could not overlook the fact that Smith had committed two armed robberies within a week.
Smith was arrested and charged May 5, 2016, in McHenry County after police said he entered a McHenry PLS Loan Store, 810 N. Front St., through the front door, approached an employee and demanded money from the safe room while displaying what was initially described as a handgun. Police later determined the weapon was a BB gun, authorities said.
The 20-year-old left the store with more than $12,000. He was found in the area shortly after the incident, police said.
“You’re lucky the people in that store didn’t have a weapon because that could’ve been your last day on this planet,” Feetterer said.
While he was in custody of McHenry police, Huntley police officers interviewed Smith and charged him in connection with a robbery of a 7-Eleven in Huntley that happened April 30.
Officers responded to the 7-Eleven about 3:09 a.m. April 30 and found that Smith entered the store and demanded money from the cash register while displaying the same BB gun, police have said.
All of the money taken from both stores was returned, authorities said.
Feetterer sentenced Smith to four years in prison and two years of mandatory supervised release with a recommendation for the impact incarceration program, commonly referred to as boot camp.
Feetterer said while he believed Smith wasn’t an appropriate candidate for probation, he still recognized his lack of criminal history and young age. Smith has been in jail custody for about 11 months.
Smith also is facing criminal charges for the Huntley incident but his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Grant Tucker, said he did not believe Kane County prosecutors were considering prison time.
Tucker said that while he understood what his client did was “disgraceful,” he believed he would do very well on probation.
He said he was concerned for his client if he was sentenced to prison because he has Type 1 diabetes and needs consistent treatment. He also said he was afraid Smith may not qualify or be able to complete boot camp because of his health conditions.
Smith’s mother, Sabrina Peden, said she believed her son had learned a lesson.
She assured the judge that her son was not likely to commit any further crimes.
She also said Smith helps take care of his 7-year-old brother and helped the family with money when he was working.
Smith, when given the chance to address the court, said he was sorry for everything that happened and he didn’t want this experience to hold him back from being successful in the future.
“I don’t want to take my freedom for granted ever again,” he said. “I made a very poor decision, but I know that isn’t an excuse.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Alex Geocaris argued that Smith should be sentenced to six years in prison based on the seriousness of the crime and to deter others from committing these types of crimes.
“This was not some victimless crime,” Geocaris said. “There was no good or valid reason why he committed this crime.”