Espresso stand robber must apologize

EVERETT — A man who robbed Snohomish County espresso stands last year has been sentenced to six years in prison.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Okrent late last week also ordered Jason Michael Hughes to write letters of apology to the three baristas he robbed. Hughes is forbidden from having direct contact with the victims but was ordered to submit the letters through his attorney.

Last month, Hughes pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree robbery. One count included an allegation that Hughes, 32, was armed with a knife when he robbed one of the stands.

Hughes told police he held up the stands to feed a drug addiction. He didn’t have any prior felony convictions. He was a suspect in two other coffee stand robberies.

Police caught up with him and his accomplice Molly Walden in October after they tried to rob a Lake Stevens stand. The barista told investigators that a short, pudgy man with dirty blonde hair ordered her to empty the cash register. She thought the man was joking until she saw a knife poking out of the suspect’s sleeve. The barista told the man she was calling police. He walked away from the stand.

Less than 30 minutes later, a nearby espresso stand was robbed by a man armed with a knife. The robber grabbed the barista’s cellphone.

A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy noticed that the suspect matched the description of a man who had robbed a Snohomish stand in September. Video surveillance from a neighboring business showed that robber getting into a green Chevy pickup. The suspect vehicle had a few distinguishing features, such as a bug guard and chrome running boards. The deputy spotted a similar truck about a block away from the Lake Stevens espresso stand. The deputy stopped the truck. He spotted a man, later identified as Hughes, hiding under a jacket in the backseat. The deputy also saw a bunch of cash on the floor of the truck. Walden was in the driver’s seat.

Police later searched the Chevy and found a six-inch knife and the barista’s stolen cellphone. Walden told police that she’d driven Hughes to rob at least six espresso stands, including the one in Snohomish and a couple in Everett in October.

Walden pleaded guilty earlier this year to four counts of second-degree robbery and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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