U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
October 23, 2009
Providence man sentenced to 220 months in prison in drug-rip sting
A federal judge today sentenced Souvanh Keosouvanh, 29, of Providence, to 220 months in federal prison for leading a plot to rob drug dealers of cocaine. Keosouvanh discussed the proposed robbery with an undercover ATF agent posing as a drug courier, and was arrested along with three codefendants as they were en route to the proposed robbery. The drug dealers, purportedly the undercover agents’ employers, did not exist.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the sentence, which U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith imposed in U.S. District Court, Providence. In January, Judge Smith sentenced Vixay Phommarath, 23, to 72 months in prison, and Nheat Nhim, also 23, to 97 months for their roles in the robbery plot. Last month he sentenced Khek Choummalaithong, 30, to 131 months.
In December 2008, a jury convicted Keosouvanh of several charges associated with the scheme and his dealings with the undercover agent. During the trial, then Assistant U.S. Attorney Neronha presented evidence that, in March and April 2007, the undercover agent met several times with Keosouvanh and bought Ecstasy from him on four occasions. During their meetings and related telephone conversations, the agent said he delivered kilogram quantities of cocaine to Boston for Providence-based suppliers. Keosouvanh expressed his willingness to rob the suppliers of their cocaine and said he could provide an armed crew of individuals to participate.
On April 26, 2007, Keosouvanh, Phommarath, Nhim, and Choummalaithong met the agent in Providence. All but Keosouvanh said they were armed. Choummalaithong had a shotgun. Keosouvanh said he needed a weapon and later obtained a pistol from the undercover agent.
The would-be robbers drove to a location in Cranston and along the way discussed plans for the robbery and how to take the dealers by force. At the Cranston location, an ATF Special Response Team moved in and arrested the defendants. Nhim, Choummalaithong, and Phommarath were wearing rubber gloves and Nhim had a black ski mask. Agents recovered two loaded handguns and the shotgun, plus the pistol that Keosouvanh had obtained from the undercover agent.
Judge Smith sentenced Keosouvanh to160 months for three offenses connected with the robbery plot and four counts of distributing Ecstasy, and to an additional 60 months for using a firearm in connection with a drug-trafficking crime.
Phommarath, Nhim, and Choummalaithong each pleaded guilty to various offenses related to the robbery plot.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth P. Madden represented the government at today’s sentencing.