You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Former Army Ranger bank robber resentenced to 31 years in prison

Judge orders sentence reduced by 12 years due to defendant’s young age at time of crimes and apparent rehabilitation in prison

Seattle – The leader of a military-style bank robbery, who later assaulted a co-defendant and tried to hire someone to kill a federal prosecutor, was resentenced today to 31 years in prison for his crimes, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  Luke Elliott Sommer, 36, of Peachland, British Columbia, Canada, had successfully petitioned U.S. District Judge James L. Robart to review his sentence based on his youth at the time of the crimes and his reform while in prison.  In reducing the sentence from 43 years to 31 years, Judge Robart first noted that Sommer’s crimes “are some of the most extreme, violent and dangerous actions to come before this court.”

“Luke Sommer told the court, and the victims of his crimes, that he had truly changed and expressed his sorrow for his actions,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  “He claims to be committed to working on his reform and doing what is right – he now has more than a decade to demonstrate that commitment while he remains incarcerated.”

Luke Sommer was originally 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 handguns. 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.

Today, three victims of the bank robbery told the court how they suffered following the crime with post-traumatic stress and anxiety.  The former branch manager described how she saw the red dot of Sommer’s laser site pointed at her young tellers.  “The staff was never the same, I will never be the same,” the branch manager said.

In addition to the bank robbery, in 2010 Sommer was convicted of offering 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 for the bank robbery. 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.

In reducing Sommer’s sentence, Judge Robart noted that “punishment is not vengeance or retaliation.”  The judge said he put weight on the letters from Bureau of Prisons staff who indicate Sommer has “worked hard to do the right thing while incarcerated.”

Assistant United States Attorneys Todd Greenberg and Teal Miller handled the resentencing.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated November 2, 2022