'I had to do it': Pa. chief turns in his own son in bank robbery case


By MICHAEL RUBINKAM
Associated Press Writer

BATH, Pa.- As he leafed through the newspaper Wednesday morning, acting Police Chief James Cavallo thought there was something awfully familiar about the bank robbery suspect pictured in a grainy surveillance photo.

Studying the suspect's slender build, the way he carried himself, the red baseball cap he wore, Cavallo came to a terrible realization: The man who had robbed the bank was his own son.

And so, as painful as it was, he turned him in.

"I knew I had to do it," the police chief of Moore Township, near Allentown, said Friday. "There was no question about it."

Police arrested James Cavallo Jr., 28, on Wednesday and charged him with robbery, theft and receiving stolen property. After making what police said was a videotaped confession, he was jailed on $500,000 bail.

The elder Cavallo said his son told him he was high on cocaine Tuesday when he walked into a local bank with only a cap as a disguise, handed the teller a note claiming he had a gun, and walked out with $6,000.

The chief said that he had helped his son kick the habit about eight years ago, but that he recently suffered a relapse. "It becomes your God and it's all-consuming," said the 22-year police veteran.

After seeing the newspaper photo, the chief drove to the Colonial Regional Police Department _ the department investigating the robbery _ and asked to see more pictures. He became even more convinced.

"I started to get sick to my stomach," the elder Cavallo said.

Accompanied by a detective, he went to his son's house that afternoon and found him asleep in bed. He woke him up and confronted him. The younger man admitted to the robbery, apologized and began crying, his father said.

Police recovered $3,830. The younger Cavallo told authorities he lost the rest at the Atlantic City, N.J., casinos, but his father said some of it also went to buy drugs.

"I'm not blaming what he did on the cocaine," Cavallo said. "He knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into that bank."

The police chief said jail might be the best thing for his son: "I believe that being arrested is the first step in intervention for a lot of people."

"It was a very difficult decision for Jim to turn his son over," said Colonial Regional Chief Roy Seiple, who has known the elder Cavallo for 20 years, "but he knew that was the right thing he had to do."

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