Men accused in armed robberies, kidnappings face judge

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SAN DIEGO — Two men accused in a series of San Diego-area armed robberies of women, several of whom were kidnapped and forced to withdraw money from ATMs, pleaded not guilty Friday to kidnapping and robbery charges.

Detectives arrested Kha Sok, 33, and David Vichit Tonn, 28, on Wednesday in connection with the weeklong spree of holdups and abductions in central San Diego and the East County, officials said.

Deputy District Attorney Lucy Yturralde Friday told Judge David Szumowski that Sok is charged with involvement in four separate robberies, including two in which victims were allegedly kidnapped and three where a gun was used.

Both Sok and Tonn were involved in an incident on Monday in which a woman was kidnapped from a CVS store in Lemon Grove and forced to withdraw money from ATMs, Yturralde alleged.

The defendants may have worked together in another robbery as well, the prosecutor told the judge.

The crimes happened in the 5200 El Cajon Boulevard on Nov. 23; in the 4200 block of Chamoune Avenue and the 4400 block of El Cajon Boulevard, both last Friday; and in the 7100 Broadway in Lemon Grove on Monday, according to investigators.

In the first two robberies, a solitary man stole a woman’s purse, pushing the first victim to the ground and threatening the second with a silver pistol.

During the third holdup, a man knocked on a motorist’s car window, displayed a handgun and got into the victim’s vehicle. He then forced her to drive to two banks, withdraw cash from teller machines and hand it over, police said. He also made her go to a liquor store and buy alcoholic beverages for him before having her drive him to the 4300 block of Highland Avenue, where he got out and fled on foot.

Two men committed the fourth robbery, forcing the victim into her car and making her drive to multiple ATMs to get money for them. They eventually dropped her off near 54th Street and El Cajon Boulevard.

Sok was ordered held on $1 million bail and Tonn had his bail set at $700.000.

A readiness conference was scheduled for Dec. 15 and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 17.

Both defendants face life in prison if convicted, according to the prosecutor.

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