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Article posted: 3/4/2013 7:56 PM

Elgin man pleads guilty to 9 armed robberies

By Harry Hitzeman

A 39-year-old Elgin man faces a prison sentence after pleading guilty to a series of armed robberies from August 2011 through June 2012 in Elgin, Aurora and East Dundee.

Fernando D. Zavala, of the 200 block of North Gifford Street, entered a "cold plea" Friday and will be sentenced April 10, according to court records.

In a cold plea, a defendant admits guilt without having an agreed upon sentence with prosecutors and lets a judge make the final decision.

Judge John Barsanti accepted the plea and will sentence Zavala, who has been held at the Kane County jail on $1.2 million bail since his arrest in late June 2012.

Until his arrest, Zavala had no previous criminal record and most of the places he hit were payday loan type stores.

Overall, Zavala admitted to nine robberies, each of which carries a possible penalty of four to 15 years in prison, court records show.

He was arrested by Aurora police at about 4:30 p.m. June 22, 2012, after a short chase. Officers responded to an alarm at the Check-N-Go, 1276 N. Lake St., after a man entered the store and showed a gun to two female clerks. The gun turned out to be a toy. The man took money from the cashiers' drawers and ordered them to open the safe.

The clerks told him the safe was equipped with 10-minute delay, so he ran out the back of the store, police said.

After a short chase, officers arrested Zavala and found $1,070, along with the toy gun, police said.

Police said they were able to tie Zavala to a similar robbery earlier that day at the Payday Loan Store, 954 E. New York St. He is accused of holding up the store at 1:15 p.m. and stealing $3,500 from cashier drawers and a safe, police said.

Zavala also matched the suspect description for other armed robberies in Elgin.

Zavala pleaded guilty to six armed robberies in Elgin, which occurred on: Aug. 14, 2011; Oct. 27, 2011; Nov. 20 and Nov. 30, 2011; March 7, 2012; and May 25, 2012, according to court records.

Zavala also pleaded guilty to an armed robbery on Jan. 18, 2012, in East Dundee, records show.

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