Friday, December 19, 2008

Serial Bank Robber Sentenced to More Than 167 Years in Prison

SOUKSAKHONE PHAKNIKONE, 26, a/k/a "Bruce Phaknikone," and "Trigga," of Dacula, Georgia, was sentenced December 18 by United States District Judge Richard W. Story 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.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today's sentence, "Over a seven-month period in 2006 and 2007, this defendant terrorized people in banks across metro Atlanta. While his violent and aggressive tactics enabled him to victimize numerous unsuspecting bank tellers, the sentence he received today ensures that the remainder of his life will be spent behind bars. Innocent citizens will never again suffer from the gun-toting violence of this criminal."

PHAKNIKONE was sentenced to 167 years, 1 month in prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $86,706. After a trial lasting approximately a week and a half, the jury convicted PHAKNIKONE of these charges on September 25, 2008.

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.

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 Angela M. Jordan and Matthew T. Jackson prosecuted the case.

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