A Connecticut man will serve an unusually severe prison sentence for two bank robberies that – added to previous convictions – has earned him a life sentence under the “three strikes” law.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David B. Fein announced that Francisco Deida, 47, of Bridgeport, was sentenced June 21, 2011 by U.S. District Judge Stefan R. Underhill to life in prison.
According to Atty. Fein, Deida’s extensive prior criminal record dates to 1983, when he was 18, and includes state convictions for first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and first-degree robbery.
Deida was sentenced this week under the federal “Three Strikes” law*, which requires that an offender receives a mandatory life sentence if he or she is convicted in federal court of a serious violent felony and has two or more prior convictions in federal or state courts, at least one of which is a serious violent felony.
According to ctpost.com, this is only the second time in Connecticut history that the federal three strikes law has been imposed.
Deida has been detained since May 28, 2009 after he was arrested in connection with two 2009 bank robberies.
On May 22, 2009, FBI agents first arrested Domingo Gonzalez in Bridgeport, who investigators say partnered with Deida in the two robberies.
At that time, police say Gonzalez was found in possession of a loaded .32 firearm, several fake moustaches and a make-up kit in his car.
Gonzalez and another accomplice Henry Crespo subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery of a Webster bank dating back to Jan. 28, 2009.
Gonzalez, who possessed a firearm during that robbery, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
For those convictions, Gonzalez and Crespo are serving prison terms of 18 years and four months and 4 years, respectively.
Almost a year later, on March 3, 2010, a federal jury found Deida guilty of two counts of bank robbery including the Jan. 28, 2009 Webster Bank robbery and an April 6, 2009 robbery of a TDBank North. He had been out of prison – serving a sentence for prior crimes – only eight weeks before he committed the first robbery.
According to the evidence presented during the trial, on Jan. 28, 2009, Deida, Gonzalez and Crespo robbed the Webster Bank on Merwin Avenue in Milford, CT.
Investigators say Deida and Gonzalez entered the bank wearing heavy winter clothing, had their faces covered with masks and scarves, and were carrying umbrellas, which they kept open to block the bank’s video surveillance.
Gonzalez approached the bank manager, grabbed her by the arm, pressed a gun up against her and demanded access to the safe. Gonzalez then demanded that the bank manager and the assistant manager accompany him behind the teller line.
At the same time, Deida approached a bank teller, pulled out a gun, and demanded money.
Gonzalez directed all of the bank employees to a corner behind the teller line and told them to turn around while the teller emptied the bank’s day vault into a bag held by Deida.
Gonzalez and Deida then fled from the bank with approximately $84,000, in a car driven by Crespo.
According to Atty. Fein, on April 6, 2009, Deida and the two other individuals also robbed the TD Banknorth on Amity Road in Woodbridge, CT.
Like the previous robbery, investigators say Deida and Gonzalez wore heavy clothing, masks and disguises on their faces, and carried umbrellas.
Gonzalez entered the bank and vaulted over the teller line and demanded cash from two tellers.
At the same time, Deida approached branch manager, flashed a gun in his waistband and demanded access to the vault. Deida directed the bank employees to a safe deposit room behind the teller line while Gonzalez forced a bank employee to go into the vault with him.
Deida and Gonzalez left the bank with approximately $23,000, and fled in a car driven by Crespo.
During the course of the Woodbridge robbery, a U.S. postal carrier delivering mail to the bank observed the robbery in progress. The postal carrier then left the bank and called 911 from his postal vehicle.
Chased by police, Crespo drove the getaway car from Woodbridge into the Rock Creek neighborhood of New Haven. There, investigators say, Crespo slowed the car and Deida and Gonzalez jumped out and fled on foot.
Crespo abandoned the car a few blocks later but was apprehended later that day in the neighborhood.
These crimes were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Milford Police Department, the Woodbridge Police Department, the New Haven Police Department, and the Connecticut State Police.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.
Posted June 25, 2011
* the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
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