FORMER ARMY RANGER BANK ROBBER PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULT AND TRYING TO HIRE A HIT MAN
Dual Canadian and US Citizen Already Serving 24 years in Prison
Barely one year after he was sentenced to 24 years in prison, former U.S. Army Ranger LUKE ELLIOTT SOMMER, 22, of Peachland, British Columbia, Canada, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Solicitation of a Crime of Violence. If the plea agreement is approved by the judge, SOMMER will be sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge James L. Robart scheduled sentencing for March 29, 2010. Under the terms of the plea agreement, SOMMER’s total prison term will be 44 years behind bars.
“Any attempt to harm those working in law enforcement, is an attack on the justice system -- a pillar of our democracy,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “We take all threats and violence against law enforcement and court staff very seriously, and will fully prosecute those responsible. As we have in this case, we will seek significant punishment.”
According to the plea agreement, on two occasions in March 2009, SOMMER offered an undercover FBI task force officer as much as $20,000 for murdering an Assistant United States Attorney. Law enforcement was alerted to SOMMER’s interest in hiring a hit man in January 2009, barely a month after SOMMER was sentenced. SOMMER moved forward with the plot in March 2009, when he tried to hire the undercover officer telling him he wanted news reports of the hit to reflect that it was “murder not an accident.”
Additionally, on January 23, 2009, SOMMER used a prison-made knife to attack a co-defendant in the bank robbery case. The two men were to be housed separately at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, but SOMMER schemed to get to the other man’s prison unit with the weapon. SOMMER attacked the other inmate, fighting until the two were pulled apart by staff. SOMMER continued to yell and threaten the safety of the victim. Although the victim suffered a minor stab wound and multiple abrasions, neither man had to be hospitalized.
LUKE SOMMER was sentenced to 24 years in prison on December 12, 2008, for Conspiracy to Commit Armed Bank Robbery, Armed Bank Robbery, Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence, and Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device – Hand Grenade. SOMMER was the mastermind of the August 7, 2006, robbery of a Tacoma branch of Bank of America. Five men, including SOMMER, participated in the robbery. Two were armed with fully automatic AK-47 machine guns. SOMMER and another man carried loaded semi-automatic hand guns. The men wore soft body armor to protect themselves in case of a shoot-out with police and carried hundreds of rounds of extra ammunition. SOMMER told the others that he wanted to use the proceeds of the robbery to start a crime family to rival the Hell’s Angels in British Columbia, Canada. The men escaped with more than $50,000, but were quickly tracked down and arrested thanks to an alert citizen who noted the license plate of the getaway car.
The FBI investigated the current charges. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory A. Gruber.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.