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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of California
E. Martin Estrada, United States Attorney
For Immediate Release
Monday, January 22, 2024

Phoenix Man Sentenced to 26 Years in Federal Prison for Armed Robbery Spree That Ended in Violent High-Speed Pursuit

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — An Arizona man was sentenced today to 312 months in federal prison for committing armed robberies of nine stores in Southern California and Arizona during a crime spree in summer 2022 that ended in a high-speed chase in which he fired upon federal agents and, after police rammed his car, shot himself.

Samuel Sven Smith, 28, of Phoenix, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, who also ordered him to pay $8,873 in restitution.

In May 2023, Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act) and two counts of brandishing and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

From July 31, 2022, until his arrest on Aug. 20, 2022, Smith went on an armed robbery spree in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties, as well as in Arizona. Specifically, Smith admitted robbing a Big Lots store in Riverside and PetSmart stores in Signal Hill, Orange, San Bernardino, Fontana, Pico Rivera, Redlands, Phoenix and Rancho Cucamonga.

In each of these nine robberies, Smith brandished a firearm to control store employees.

“Smith showed complete disregard for the safety of others when he went on his crime spree, threatening store employee with firearms and then opening fire on federal agents,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “We cannot accept such blatant violence on our streets and my office is committed to doing all it can to protect the people of our district.”

After Smith robbed the Rancho Cucamonga PetSmart store on Aug. 20, 2022, stealing $400 from a store employee, he exited the store and was met by law enforcement, which included federal officers. Smith then opened fire at the officers.

Smith then entered his vehicle and sped off, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase, during which he fired his gun numerous times at pursuing officers. The chase ended when law enforcement rammed into Smith’s vehicle.

According to court documents, when law enforcement approached Smith’s car, they determined he had suffered a gunshot wound underneath his chin. Smith told officers who were performing life saving measures, that when they rammed into his vehicle, he accidentally shot himself, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case.

“This is the type of vicious career criminal that ATF’s task force in Orange County targets daily,” said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Bombardiere. “We work with our law enforcement partners to put these offenders in prison to stop their terrorizing of our communities. I want to thank all the men and women on the task force who risk their lives daily.”

The ATF Orange County Violent Crime Task Force investigated this matter. The task force, which is responsible for investigating serial robberies around Southern California, is composed of investigators with ATF; the Brea Police Department; the Fullerton Police Department; the Santa Ana Police Department; and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department provided assistance in this matter.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin J. Butler of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case.


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