OKANOGAN — The man who held up the Riverside Grocery last September and assaulted the owner pleaded guilty last week to first-degree robbery and harassment-threats to kill.

Alex Anthony Sanchez, 38, pleaded guilty in Okanogan County Superior Court and was sentenced April 23 to 108 months — nine years — in prison for the Sept. 30, 2013, robbery.

Although he allegedly left a folding-blade knife behind when he fled the robbery scene, a deadly weapon enhancement was dropped as part of his plea agreement.

During the robbery last September, Sanchez entered the store, knocked down owner Kim Nagy and punched her, and escaped with an estimated $650 in cash from the till. The incident was caught on the store’s security cameras, but the robber was wearing sunglasses and had a bandana over his face.

According to charging documents, deputy Tony Hawley said when he arrived at the store he saw medications knocked off the shelves to the floor, a vacuum cleaner knocked over and a folding-blade knife lying on the floor with the blade locked open.

Nagy told him she’d been in the back when the suspect entered the store. She went to greet him, but he didn’t respond.

He knocked her to the floor, and punched her in the head and face at least three times, court records show. She kicked back, but he allegedly told her to stop or he would kill her.

Sanchez went to the cash register, pushed one button and opened it, and then took bills from it. As he was leaving, he again threatened to kill her.

She said she went to the phone and called 911, and saw a van leaving. She flagged down a passing motorist, Darrel Armstrong, and asked him to try and find the vehicle but he could not.

A witness reported seeing the van heading south on Old Riverside Highway at a high rate of speed.

At the time, Sheriff Frank Rogers credited help from the public with identifying Sanchez as the suspect.

“From the information obtained at the time and a video of the robbery that was put out to the public, the Sheriff’s Office has received several calls” about the thief, Rogers said at the time.

Those who called in identified the robber as Sanchez.

“We also knew that Sanchez drove a van which had been described to us by the victim of the robbery,” Rogers said.

The Sheriff’s Office then put out the word to other agencies to look for Sanchez. He was arrested Oct. 2 by Oroville Police Chief Clay Warnstaff.

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