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Judge to consider whether confession is illegal in record-setting Nassau bank heist

Bronx resident Claude Bird, a 42-year-old Jamaican national,

Bronx resident Claude Bird, a 42-year-old Jamaican national, is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Mineola on six armed robbery counts. In this photo released Monday, May 17, 2010 by the Nassau County Police Department, he is shown in photos from 1993, left, and from his mug shot after being arrested. Credit: AP

A judge said Thursday he'll consider at an upcoming trial if a confession that a suspect in a record-setting bank robbery allegedly gave Nassau detectives while jailed in Jamaica two decades ago was obtained illegally.

Bronx resident Claude Bird, 42, a Jamaican national, is scheduled for trial Monday on armed robbery counts.

The case, said to be the oldest one awaiting trial in New York, involves a 1993 heist at a Lake Success bank. The robbers took $241,000 -- police believe that it's Nassau's biggest bank heist.

State Supreme Court Justice George Peck has said he has concerns about whether a statement Bird allegedly gave New York detectives was voluntary. Separately, he said in court Thursday the defense can bring up at the nonjury trial that some prosecution evidence was lost -- including a hair and a footprint from the crime scene.

Thursday, a prosecutor told Peck that police had just found a file connected to the case that she'd never seen before Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Jessica Cepriano said the paperwork showed federal officials told Nassau police in 2009 that they might have information about the whereabouts of Bird -- then a fugitive.

Because of that disclosure, Bird's attorney, Toni Marie Angeli of Garden City, asked Peck to reopen a hearing about whether her client's speedy trial rights had been violated.

In 2011, another judge dismissed Bird's indictment for that reason, ruling the government didn't show "due diligence" in trying to find Bird.

An appellate court later reinstated the charges. But Peck denied Angeli's request, saying he wouldn't delay the trial when top court officials wanted it resolved.

Police arrested Bird in 2010 after they said he applied for a New York learner's permit in his name after previously getting a driver's license in a dead man's name. Court records show facial recognition software helped break the case.

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