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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

October 19, 2010

B. Todd Jones, United States Attorney

Contact: Jeanne F. Cooney
Director of Community Relations
(612) 664-5611

Man Indicted in Federal Court Under Project Exile Minneapolis

A man has been federally indicted under the Project Exile Minneapolis initiative. It charges Samnane Phabsomphou, age 32, unknown address, with being a career criminal in possession of a firearm as well as possession of ammunition. The indictment was filed earlier today in Minneapolis.

Project Exile Minneapolis is a law enforcement initiative, launched on July 22, 2010, as part of a City-wide effort to reduce gun violence. Through Project Exile, the Minneapolis Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives work together to apprehend serial criminals for violations of gun laws. Then, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office teams up with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine where those offenders will most effectively be prosecuted–State or federal court. Those determinations are based on the offenders’ criminal histories and current charges, among other factors.

Because Phabsomphou is a convicted felon, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm at any time. His past convictions include second-degree assault in Hennepin County in 1998; first degree controlled substance crime in Dakota County in 2003; and terroristic threats in Wright County in 2009. Nonetheless, on February 12, 2010, he was allegedly found in possession of a nine-millimeter handgun and ammunition.

Since at least three of Phabsomphou’s felony convictions are for crimes of violence or serious drug offenses, he is now being prosecuted as a federal armed career criminal. Accordingly, if he is convicted of possessing a firearm on February 12, he will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. He also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years if convicted of the possession of ammunition charge. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

Presently, several other Project Exile Minneapolis cases are being prepared for federal charges. Moreover, County and federal prosecutors continue to review all Minneapolis gun cases on a regular basis.

The Phabsomphou case is the result of an investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Probation Office and the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven S. Schleicher.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have beencommitted by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is provenguilty at trial.