EUGENE, Ore. -- Sam Sourikoff walked into Mazzi's Restaurant in south Eugene last December, flashed a gun, took a wad of cash, grabbed a bottle of wine and ran.
He'd been there before.
He won't be going there again any time soon.
Sourikoff, 22, will serve almost 12 years in the Oregon State Penitentiary for robbing Mazzi's Restaurant again. And again. And again.
The former University of Oregon student admitted robbing Mazzi's and Beaudet Jewelry multiple times since 2007.
The deal assures he will serve every day of his 140-month prison sentence.
Sourikoff also won't face charges in any of the crimes he committed in Nevada or California in exchange for divulging the details of those crimes to police.
Must be quite a story: His spree spanned three states and almost two years -- but began and ended at the same restaurant.
From the sagebrush to the Amazon
Sourikoff moved to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon in 2005 after graduating high school in Minden, Nev.
The town, home to just 839 families, is a short drive from Reno, Nev., and South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in the shadow of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Sourikoff's studies took a turn at the end of his second year in Eugene: the south Eugene resident started robbing his own hood to fuel an off-shore sports gambling habit.
On May 26, 2007, Sourikoff fashioned a mask out of a t-shirt sleeve, slipped it over his face and robbed Mazzi's for what would be the first of four times.
The masks -- and Mazzi's -- would become hallmarks of his crime spree, as well as his undoing.
Two weeks after the first robbery, Sourikoff robbed Beaudet Jewelry at 2849 Oak Street in south Eugene.
He dropped his mask as he fled the scene. The mask was tested by the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, and the suspect’s mitochondrial DNA was isolated. However, because Sourikoff had no DNA profile on record, police couldn't link him to the crime.
There were still no suspects.
But there were more robberies.
On Sept, 22, 2007, Sourikoff robbed Mazzi’s again.
On Oct. 6, 2007, Sourikoff robbed Beaudet Jewelry a second time.
Even though he used a toy gun in those robberies, to the people who fell victim to what investigators called classic takeover robberies, the gun in the hands of the masked man demanding money was real enough.
Eugene police detectives believed both jewelry store robberies were committed by the same suspect. They also suspected the robber was travelling due to the long time gap between the robberies and the fact that stolen jewelry was not appearing locally.
What I did with my summer vacation
Detectives notified all West Coast law enforcement agencies of the suspect’s descriptions and crimes.
Turns out Sourikoff had worked his way into a summer job: robbing jewelry stores.
Investigators in Sourikoff's home town at the Douglas County, Nevada, Sheriff’s Office told Eugene detectives that a similar series of robberies and burglaries occurred in northern Nevada and California.
On Aug. 14, 2007, someone burglarized Oliver’s Fine Jewelry in Zephyr Cove, Nev.
Then they did it again three days later.
On Aug. 21, 2007, Incline Jewelry Outlet in Reno, Nev., was burglarized.
Three days later, there was an attempted robbery at Steve Schmier’s Jewelry in Tahoe City, Calif., west of Reno.
And on Aug. 28, 2007, someone split the difference between the Silver State and the Golden State, robbing J.P. Chadom Jewelry in Stateline, Nev., on the Nevada-California border, about a half hour drive up the Kingsbury Grade from Sourikoff's hometown.
Leave it to the Beaver State
Investigators in California and Nevada didn't have any leads.
Detectives in Eugene did: They learned that some of the jewelry from the second robbery of Beaudet Jewelers had been pawned in Portland between Oct, 8, 2007, and Oct. 19, 2007.
Investigators tracked down the person whose identification was used at that pawn transaction and met with him on Oct 24, 2007.
He did not match the surveillance photos, and during questioning he told investigators he lost his identification while visiting family in Portland.
He told investigators he recently received a welcoming letter from a casino in Reno, Nev., a place he said he had never been. His theory: Someone must have found his ID and used it.
Detectives showed him surveillance photos of the suspect, but he said he said he did not recognize the suspect.
He was lying.
School's out for summer
On July 10, 2008, Sourikoff robbed Mazzi’s for a third time.
Police still didn't have a suspect. Nor did they realize there was a connection between the robberies at Mazzi's and Beaudet.
Enter the G-men: On Aug. 15, 2008, the FBI Web site posted surveillance photos compiled from the jewelry store robberies in Oregon, California and Nevada and released them to the media.
The FBI also offered a $10,000 reward for the man's arrest.
In September 2008, the FBI got a tip naming Samuel Sourikoff as the suspect in the photos from the jewelry store robberies. The informant now gets the $10,000 reward.
But the patrons and staff at Mazzi's beat police to the punch.
The last go-round on East Amazon
In the weeks that followed, Eugene detectives and FBI agents reconstructed Sourikoff’s travels. They determined Sourikoff was in or near all of the cities when the crimes and subsequent jewelry pawns occurred.
Investigators also learned that in the days following the first Beaudet Jewelry robbery on June 6, 2007, Sourikoff pawned jewelry under his own name in Portland.
He also had pawned a ring in Eugene that was stolen during the August 28, 2007, robbery of JP Chadom Jewelry in Stateline, Nev.
Detectives also determined that jewelry taken during the burglaries and robberies in Nevada had been pawned in San Francisco on Sept. 6, 2007.
They were closing in on their man.
Some pasta-powered vigilantes got there first.
As detectives and FBI agents pieced together the jewelry thefts, Sourikoff robbed Mazzi’s for a fourth -- and final -- time on Dec. 5, 2008.
Sourikoff flashed a toy gun painted to look real, took a wad of cash, grabbed a bottle of wine and ran.
Patrons and staff from the restaurant chased Sourikoff through the neighborhood, forcing him to drop the wine and hide.
But not for long: Police arrested him, and the UO student's fall term came to an end with his mugshot flashed across local media.
Turns out Sourikoff gave police the break they needed: While they were building a case against him for the jewelry store robberies, police didn't have any suspects in any of the Mazzi’s robberies -- until Sourikoff's arrest.
Loose ends and a 140-month farewell
In January 2009, investigators sent the mask recovered from the first Beaudet robbery to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va. In mid-February, the DNA from the mask was matched to a sample taken from Sourikoff at his arrest.
On Feb. 20, 2009, the person police interviewed about his ID being used to pawn jewelry in POrtland admitted lying to investigators. He said he had recognized the person in the surveillance photos as Samuel Sourikoff, an acquaintance at the UO to whom he loaned his ID in order to buy alcohol.
The Lane County District Attorney’s Office constructed a plea offer to close the cases in other jurisdictions and build a prison sentence based on the Eugene crimes.
Sourikoff accepted the offer and pleaded guilty to eight counts of Robbery in the Second Degree for crimes he committed at Mazzi’s and Beaudet Jewelry in Eugene.
The other jurisdictions agreed to not prosecute Sourikoff in exchange for his disclosure of the details of his crimes to detectives. Also under terms of the agreement, Sourikoff will not face federal prosecution.
He will do time: A Lane County judge sentenced Sourikoff to 140 months without the possibility of early release.