Police unravel Salt Lake crime ring they say committed series of robberies

Published: Wednesday, May 14 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

Editor's note: Although Hutcherson was arrested, investigators eventually determined she had nothing to do with the crimes and was released. No charges related to the aggravated robberies or gang enhancements were filed. Charges also were not filed against Lauti.

A fingerprint. An anonymous tip.

Those are some of the pieces of evidence investigators used to unravel a crime ring that police say was responsible for a series of robberies in Salt Lake City over the last nine months, according to search warrants made public Monday.

In a search of several homes and vehicles last month, police seized more than 20 firearms — including assault rifles — as well as ammunition and masks they say were used in at least seven robberies, according to the warrants.

Six people were arrested last month in connection with the robberies as a result of the investigation. Those arrested were: Filikisi Hafoka, 19; Viliami Loumoli, 20; John Tuakalau, 20; Daniel Maumau, 21; Sally Hutcherson, 25; and Fatafehi Lauti, 32.

The nine-month spree started July 24, 2007, police said. A 7-Eleven clerk at 515 N. 300 West was critically injured when he was shot by three men committing a beer theft.

Through an earlier search warrant, police obtained photographs of a "gang party" on the same night as the 7-Eleven robbery, according to the documents made public Monday. Police were able to identify one of the suspects because he was wearing the same clothing during the party and the robbery, according to the warrant.

Police also used confidential informants, who said the suspects "bragged" about firing a shot into the ceiling during the January robbery of Factory 4 U, 356 S. Redwood Road, according to the documents. After Rancherito's, 1860 S. Redwood Road, was robbed Feb. 14, a confidential informant told police the suspects carried bags with the restaurant's logo, filled with money, into a party, the warrants state.

In addition to firearms and ammunition, police seized a digital camera, photographs, a cell phone, a two-way radio, a cooler and clothing, according to the warrants.


E-mail: afalk@desnews.com

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