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A judge today ordered a Buffalo man to eight to 24 years in prison for raping a 26-year-old woman last June 7 and breaking into her home.

The victim tearfully thanked Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury for the near-maximum sentence.

"You've gotten enough wake up calls," Drury told Michael Flax, 27, whose four arrests for sex crimes included one that led to his dishonorable discharge from the Army his 1985.

Drury, who called sex crimes a "pervasive problem in our society," also fined Flax $155 in court costs.

Flax, who has no permanent Buffalo address, has been jailed since January, when he finished a brief prison term in South Carolina on bad check charges, and was convicted March 31 of first-degree rape and second-degree burglary in the Buffalo case.

The victim said she had met him at a party and, about 5 p.m., he walked her back to her home, then asked to use her telephone.

After sexually assaulting her in the living room and bedroom several times until about 7:30 a.m., Flax left but returned to the flat at about 10 a.m. and broke in, forcing the woman to flee to neighbors for help, said Carol Giarrizzo Bridge, the prosecutor.

Drury rejected Flax's claims that the charges were filed only after he learned that an acquaintance of the woman was involved in an unsolved Buffalo murder. She falsely accused him, he said, because "she felt I was going to tell."

But Drury noted that Flax had "testified at great length" during his trial and claimed the victim consented to have sex yet never mentioned the murder.

Flax, however, contended that he had been "shut down during the trial" by his lawyers, who prevented him from complaining or testifying about the murder case.

"This isn't the first time you've been in front of a court," Drury noted.

The claims about a murder plot did not constitute newly discovered evidence warranting a new trial, Drury ruled.

Mrs. Bridge said Flax was dishonorably discharged from the Army after sexually assaulting an enlisted woman.

Flax also was charged with rape in Rochester in 1986 and Buffalo in 1988, but both cases were dropped after the persons who had reported being raped failed to show up for court proceedings, Mrs. Bridges said.

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