Originally Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2012, 9:19 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 20, 2012, 9:56 pm

Zais declines guilty plea in Geneseo, Annawan charges

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By Lisa Hammer, rlhammer@qconline.com

CAMBRIDGE -- Judge Charles "Casey" Stengel on Tuesday told a Tampico man he would accept a guilty plea if it included a 17-year prison sentence.

Robert Zais, 26, declined. Heis charged with two counts Class 2 felony theft, three counts Class 2 felony burglary and two counts Class 3 felony theft between last April and Aug. 13.

According to Henry County Circuit Court records, Mr. Zais and co-defendant Robert Lambert, 31, of Kewanee, allegedly stole four Gators from Holland & Son in Geneseo; an Arctic Cat utility vehicle from Mapes Asphalt in Geneseo; and several tools.

The men also allegedly broke into Annawan Express Lane in Annawan and stole an ATM containing $7,700 andbroke into People's National Bank of Kewanee in Annawan and took a safe containing rolls of coins valued at $500 to $10,000.

Henry County State's Attorney Terry Patton said the two men were stopped April 9 in Lee County pulling a trailer with one of the ATVs stolen from Holland & Son.

He said the day after the break-in at the Annawan bank, the Arctic Cat used to gain entry was found in a drainage ditch and footprints from the site matched shoes belonging to Mr. Lambert.

He said Mr. Zais' girlfriend said she overheard them talking about a bank job, and he showed her $3,200 in cash he said he won at a casino, but police learned he had not won money at the casino.

Both men remain in Henry County Jail. Mr. Zais bail was set at $400,000 and Mr. Lambert's at $250,000. Mr. Zais is scheduled for a pretrial hearing on Nov. 27.Mr. Lambert's next court date is Dec. 13.

The judge's 17-year recommendation was made at the end of a conference held to determine if charges could be resolved by a guilty plea.