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Guilty plea in armed holdup at Falls 7-Eleven

LOCKPORT – A Town of Niagara man faces up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to the June 30 robbery of a 7-Eleven store on Hyde Park Boulevard in Niagara Falls.

James A. Connell, 36, of Bellreng Drive, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree robbery. County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III promised a seven-year limit on sentencing when Connell returns to court June 18; the legal maximum for the charge is 15 years.

Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell said Connell was armed with a knife when he stole $55 from a store clerk about 1:45 a.m. Connell is a second-time violent felon, having avoided jail time in the 2010 theft of a shotgun and a marijuana “bong” from a Niagara Falls man. In October 2011, Murphy sentenced Connell to 20 days in the county work program, concluding there was little evidence Connell was armed at the time of that theft.