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Armed Robbers Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that United States District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced three defendants to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a series of violent armed robberies.

JOHN THAT LUONG, 38, of Folsom, sentenced to life in prison, plus 80 years;
KEVIN LATTANAPHOM, 32, of Oakland, sentenced to life in prison, plus 45 years; and
HOANG AI LE, 39, of Daly City, sentenced to 28 years and four months in prison.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Stockton Police Department.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys William S. Wong and Jason Hitt, who prosecuted the case, the evidence at trial showed that between December 1995 and January 1996, LUONG’s criminal organization planned and executed four armed robberies, and attempted a fifth, of computer chip companies and a Stockton jewelry store. The modus operandi for two of the robberies included an “action” team that conducted brutal home invasions of owners from targeted businesses in order to extract burglary alarm codes, security information, and keys to access the business. Once the information and keys were extracted, a second “transport” team would drive to the business and steal all of the business’s property.

Tragically, the home invasion of Stockton jewelry store owner Vuth Hong included approximately four hours of torture inflicted on the victim and his family, during which the robbers used a blowtorch, a hot iron, firearms, and other implements to extract information. Eventually, LATTANAPHOM shot and killed Vuth Hong with a single bullet to the victim’s chest. Vuth’s brother, Srun, was shot four times by another robbery crew member, but survived.

The defendants were tried by jury and found guilty on December 14, 2007. LUONG was found guilty on nine counts for his part as the leader and organizer of four violent armed robberies, one of which included the murder of Vuth Hong and the shooting of Srun Hong. The jury returned seven guilty verdicts against robbery crew member and gunman LATTANAPHOM, and two guilty verdicts against defendant LE.

Another defendant in the case, robbery crew chief MINH HUYNH, 37, of Sacramento, received nine guilty verdicts. Sentencing for him was continued because the court granted his request for new counsel. In an earlier trial in 2003 arising from the same indictment, robbery crew members THY CHANN, 34, BAO LU, 30, and SON VAN NGUYEN, 34, all of Oakland, were convicted by jury of the same armed robberies and were all sentenced by Judge Shubb to life in prison.

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