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Criminal record exacts high price

Antonio R. Carvalho, whose crime career dates back 30 years, was ordered Wednesday to serve a possible life sentence for the daylight robbery of $3,800 at an Eastern Hills Mall bank two years ago.

Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio told Carvalho, 52, she was imposing the life term with a minimum sentence of 15 years because "you have a long record," including swindling elderly homeowners on burglar alarm deals.

Carvalho had spent nearly the last year fighting prosecutor Nora M. Robshaw's efforts to have him sentenced to life as a persistent felon. He told the judge he wanted her to know "how sorry I am."

Robshaw obtained a jury conviction last Aug. 18 on robbery and grand larceny charges for the stickup Carvalho staged at a Northwest Savings Bank branch at the Eastern Hills Mall about 1 p.m. Dec. 5, 2005.

The prosecutor said Carvalho did not display a weapon but gave a teller a "threatening note" that said "Give me the money. I have a gun. I know where you live. No dye packs." She said dye packs are designed to explode when bank robbers try to open the cash packet.

Jailed since he was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five days after the bank heist, Carvalho's criminal record dates back to a 1977 armed robbery conviction in his native Fall River, Mass., according to court records.

Robshaw said Carvalho moved to the Buffalo area in the OVER 21 LNsmid-1980s after brief prison terms in Massachusetts and Ohio. She said the bank robbery in Clarence occurred six months after he was released from prison for his conviction in a Cheektowaga supermarket stickup.

Carvalho was spared additional prison time for an Amherst drunken driving arrest from several years ago and for attempting to escape from the prison ward in Erie County Medical Center in May 2006 while he was awaiting trial for the Clarence bank robbery, according to court officials.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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