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Allain saga ends with longer sentence

The couple, already serving 25 years for starving a 10-year-old girl in their care, get five more years for skipping their original October trial.


Published July 14, 2006

BROOKSVILLE - The drawn-out, high-profile story of the Allains came to a muted, uneventful end Thursday in court.

Lori Allain, 49, and Arthur "Tommy" Allain, 48, were found guilty in a trial in March of starving nearly to death the 10-year-old girl who was in their care. They were sentenced to 25 years in prison.

In a separate trial last month, they were convicted of skipping their original October trial. On Thursday, Circuit Judge Jack Springstead tacked on another five years for that.

"I'm glad it's over," said Elliott Ambrose, Tommy Allain's court-appointed attorney. "I'm glad it's done.

"There's not much more to say."

Assistant State Attorney Sherry Byerly had just one comment.

"Justice has been served," she said.

The Allains, who lived in a cluttered double-wide mobile home north of Weeki Wachee, were arrested in June 2004 and charged with child abuse and neglect for starving the girl in their long-term, nonrelative, state-approved care. The girl was dehydrated and malnourished and weighed just 29 pounds.

But the Allains skipped their trial last fall and went on the lam before being caught in January in New Jersey.

Their 2 months on the run, and their continued phone calls to the St. Petersburg Times in which they alleged a countywide conspiracy against them, only intensified the interest.

The abuse trial was in March.

An investigator from the state Department of Children and Families testified that the girl looked like someone from a concentration camp. The investigator's supervisor said she was surprised the girl could even walk. A doctor testified the girl would have died had she not been taken when she was.

By the end of the three-day trial, only one of the six jurors had any question about the Allains' guilt, and his question was only about the difference between abuse and neglect, said one juror.

"Five of us saw it exactly the same, without any discussion, right off the bat," Richard Scianimanico, 53, told the Times. "Put these people in jail, and throw the key away."

The trial for the failure to appear charge was in June.

The jury was out for less than 40 minutes.

On Thursday, for the last round of sentencing, a court-ordered, independent state Department of Corrections presentence investigation recommended five years on top of the first 25.

The Allains' attorneys asked for the five to run within the 25.

Byerly disagreed. The prosecutor said there had to be "additional punishment for this additional crime."

Springstead sided with the state and the presentence investigation and called the Allains' skipping "willful, wanton failure to appear."

He asked Lori Allain if she understood the sentence.

"Nope," she said.

"What don't you understand?" he asked. "I'll try to explain it to you."

She just shook her head.

"So you understand the sentence?" Springstead said.

"No," she said. "It doesn't matter."

"It does matter," the judge said. "What can I do to clarify it for you?"

He explained the sentence - again. He asked if she understood - again.

"Yeah," Lori Allain finally said.

Same deal with Tommy Allain.

Only shorter.

Springstead asked if he understood.

"No," he said. "I don't."

Springstead explained.

Tommy Allain laughed.

"Okay," he said out loud.

"Ridiculous," he muttered.

And then the Allains were gone.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

2006 Jul 14