Burglar returns to jail after month on the run

Wednesday March 13, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Less than a week after being given a "last chance" by a Windham County judge, Zach McAllister was ejected from a Brattleboro drug-treatment program, court documents show.

The admitted burglar was on the run for more than a month before he was caught.

McAllister wasn’t going anywhere but back to prison following his arraignment Tuesday in Vermont Superior Court Criminal Division, where Judge David Suntag maintained the 22-year-old’s bail at $15,000.

McAllister, of Westminster, had been arrested last year as authorities probed a multistate burglary ring.

On Jan. 9, he pleaded guilty to burglarizing one business -- WW Building Supply in Newfane in December 2011. McAllister also pleaded guilty to giving false information to police in Brattleboro, selling hallucinogenic mushrooms in Westminster and possessing cocaine in Bellows Falls in 2011.

He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison for those counts.

But at that same Jan. 9 proceeding, McAllister’s sentencing was delayed so that he could receive drug-addiction treatment through the RISE program administered by Phoenix House in Brattleboro.

Suntag, defense attorney William Kraham and Windham County Deputy State’s Attorney Steven Brown all stressed the importance of the "extraordinary opportunity" McAllister had been given.

At the time, Brown said McAllister’s eventual sentence would "depend on how the defendant responds to treatment between now and his next court date."

Shortly thereafter, however, Kraham was writing a letter to the court explaining that "the defendant was expelled from the Phoenix RISE house on Jan. 17 . . . and he is not in compliance with the conditions of his release," Bellows Falls police wrote in an affidavit.

The court received that letter Jan. 25. Two days earlier, McAllister had failed to appear in court in connection with a domestic-assault charge stemming from a November incident.

A warrant was issued for McAllister’s arrest, and Bellows Falls police tracked him down around 8 a.m. Feb. 28. Police said they initially received a complaint about suspicious footprints in the snow leading in and out of several driveways.

"The defendant was located in a basement at an apartment building owned by his parents at 37 Front St.," police wrote in a court affidavit.

On Tuesday, McAllister entered the courtroom in red prison garb. Through a defense attorney, Joanne Baltz, he entered not guilty pleas to two counts of violating the conditions of his release and one count of failure to appear -- all misdemeanors.

Baltz also represents McAllister on the domestic violence charge, which is next scheduled for a May 28 court proceeding.

That same day, McAllister is scheduled to return to court to be sentenced on the burglary, false report and drug charges that he already has pleaded guilty to.

He is confined at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 27


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