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LOCKPORT – As a repeat felon with a past conviction for robbery, Dale L. Swain could face up to seven years in state prison if she is found guilty of robbing the Cornerstone Credit Union in the Town of Lockport on April 10. But despite what was called strong evidence against her, Swain rejected a plea deal Tuesday in Niagara County Court.

Swain, 55, of the Town of Lockport, allegedly handed a teller notes demanding cash. According to the Niagara County Sheriff ‘s Office, she was recognized and immediately identified by bank tellers as a frequent customer. A bank officer told investigators she had filed a claim against the bank on March 11, saying she fell down in the bank’s parking lot.

She was brought in five days later by the U.S. Marshals’ Violent Felony Task Force and charged with third-degree burglary and grand larceny.

The plea deal offered by the District Attorney’s Office would allow Swain to plead guilty to the top count of third-degree burglary but to receive a lesser sentence which ranges from a minimum of 1½ to three years to a maximum of two to four years in state prison.

Niagara County Justice Sara Sheldon Farkas said Tuesday that she had reviewed the evidence and called it “very strong” and “overwhelming.”

After the plea deal was rejected, the court continued a hearing on the admissibility of evidence with Niagara County Sheriff Investigator Charles W. Baker. He said tellers told them they immediately recognized Swain, despite her gloves and a scarf. He said security video showed a suspect, who left and entered the credit union, in a vehicle that was parked in the handicapped zone. Baker said that driver was identified and he allowed them to conduct a recorded call with Swain, which gave them enough probable cause to seek a warrant. The driver was not charged.

Baker added that when Swain was arraigned in the Town of Lockport she made a spontaneous admission and said she was “going to get a job to pay back the money.”

The hearing was adjourned until Nov. 1.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com