Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 18, 2012

Fugitive siblings sentenced

Doughertys get prison time for Valdosta bank robbery

VALDOSTA — More than a year after barging into the Certus Bank on Norman Drive with assault rifles and semi-automatic weappns, a federal judge sentenced the three Dougherty siblings to more than 35 years each in prison without parole Monday morning.

Lee Grace, Dylan Stanley and Ryan Dougherty each received 228 months imprisonment for count one, robbing a bank and discharging a firearm; 200 months for the second count, using and carrying a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.

Each Dougherty is eligible for release after 30 years of good conduct, but must undergo five years of supervised release in any case.

Each sibling thanked their attorneys and apologized to all who had been inside Certus Bank during the Aug. 2, 2011 hold-up.

“I want to apologize to all of the Certus Bank employees and law-enforcement officers we endangered,” said Ryan Dougherty. “I want you all to understand that this is heartfelt. I just ask that when you sentence us, base our punishment on the things that we did and not the things we may have done. I’ll spend a long part of my life incarcerated and intend to come out a better person.”

It was a miracle no one was killed between the time of the robbery and when they were taken into Colorado custody, said U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson before sentencing the siblings beyond the

recommended guidelines. Lawson said he’d considered the absence of fatalities in the case, but reasoned that the sentences required enhancements due to the number of weapons carried by the three and the amount of innocents endangered.

“Nothing can be condoned by anyone. Withstanding the fact that these young people had a childhood that would be regarded as a handicap by most people, I don’t think their circumstances explain anything here,”  said Lawson. “When young people do these things and act impulsively, I don’t think they should be hung. But they should be punished severely, and that’s what the court will do.”

In addition to receiving a total of 428 months each in prison, the siblings must pay $1,738 in restitution to Certus Bank.

Referred to in national media as the Dougherty Gang, the siblings led authorities on a weeklong nationwide manhunt from shots being fired at a Florida police officer to the Valdosta bank robbery to a high-speed chase ending with a shootout in Colorado.

Following guilty pleas, the trio was sentenced earlier this year in Colorado for charges associated with the chase and shootout between police and the Doughertys that occurred in August 2011. They still face charges for shooting at a Florida police officer in the morning hours prior to the Valdosta bank robbery.

Each of the siblings’ Colorado State sentences have been put on hold, but the guilty verdicts remain; these earlier sentences will be reworked now that the federal charges and sentencing have been completed. Sentences in Colorado are expected to run concurrently with the terms handed down Monday in federal court.

Each sibling’s council provided at least three objections to sentence enhancements, but Lawson overruled each contest. The most notable objections focused on the definition of the term “immediacy” and how it should be applied when determining whether the siblings’ multi-state crime spree was continual or broken.

Each sibling’s attorney reasoned that too much time had elapsed between the robbery and the commission of other crimes. Lawson countered stating that the flight of the three siblings didn’t stop until Colorado police detained the Doughertys, and stated that rest stops and planning were part of the case.

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