Monday, October 6, 2008

“Counter-Jumper” Caught and Convicted After Committing Seven Armed Bank Robberies

A jury in federal district court returned a guilty verdict late September 25, 2008, against SOUKSAKHONE PHAKNIKONE, a/k/a “BRUCE PHAKNIKONE,” a/k/a "Trigga", 26, of Dacula, Georgia, on seven counts of armed bank robbery, seven counts of use of a firearm during the commission of the armed bank robberies, and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. PHAKNIKONE was convicted on all counts of the indictment after the jury deliberated approximately five hours.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today’s verdict, “This defendant has terrorized bank tellers for the last time. At trial many victims of this defendant described the fear and danger he created when he vaulted the teller counters in seven separate armed bank robberies. “Trigga” used his loaded semi-automatic firearm to steal thousands of dollars. Our community will be a safer place as a result of the cooperative and coordinated efforts of the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who worked on this case.”

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, “We are extremely pleased with the jury's verdict today. The emotional harm caused by Mr. Phaknikone to the numerous bank employees during his crime spree cannot, and is not overlooked by those pursuing justice in this matter. We thank not only the diligent prosecutors in this case but also the jury in remembering the victims as this case was presented and the violent nature of Mr. Phaknikone's crimes.”

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: PHAKNIKONE was arrested on April 6, 2007, after he robbed a Wachovia Bank in Suwanee, Georgia, and led police on a high speed chase that ended in a collision and his apprehension at gun point. The evidence at trial proved that on seven separate occasions, “Trigga” robbed banks wearing a ski mask, hoodie, gloves and carrying a semi-automatic firearm. In each robbery he vaulted the teller counter and personally grabbed the cash. Although he went to great lengths to conceal his identity, investigators recognized his signature actions, including jumping the counter in each of his robberies. Intensive investigation revealed PHAKNIKONE had visited a number of the banks without his mask to “case” and plan the robberies. Agents obtained bank surveillance photos from “Trigga’s” pre-robbery visits to the banks, which in effect, removed his mask for the jury and revealed “Trigga’s” true identity.

PHAKNIKONE faces a maximum sentence of seven life sentences plus 150 years, and faces a mandatory minimum of 157 years in prison, and a fine of up to $3,750,000. Sentencing is not yet scheduled before United States District Judge Richard W. Story.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and police officers from the following departments: Suwanee Police Department, Lilburn Police Department, Duluth Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and Barrow County Sheriff’s Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew T. Jackson and Angela M. Jordan are prosecuting the case.

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