Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 2, 2012

Two Doughertys plead guilty

Bank robbers return to Valdosta

VALDOSTA — Siblings Lee Grace Dougherty and Ryan Dougherty entered pleas of guilty to counts of bank robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime Monday morning when they appeared in Valdosta’s federal courthouse.

The two conducted themselves respectfully as they admitted to firing an AK-47 and a semi-automatic handgun into the ceiling of Certus Bank as they held up the financial institution on Aug. 2, 2011, and made off with roughly $5,000. Around $400 of the illegal haul consisted of “bait bills,” according to the indictment.

During the robbery and a nationwide manhunt, Lee Grace and Ryan were accompanied by brother Dylan, who remains in custody but was absent during Monday morning’s plea proceedings.

The three, famously labeled the “Dougherty Gang,” entered the bank wearing masks and sunglasses. After announcing their intentions with gunfire, Ryan, who had been carrying a .45-caliber Mauser, dove over the teller counter and stuffed money from the drawer into a bag before the trio fled in a Subaru Impreza.

Lee Grace and Ryan’s charges of bank robbery carry a minimal penalty of 25 years imprisonment and their weapons offenses are punishable by a minimum of 10 years imprisonment, which must be served consecutively with any other sentence that is levied against them.

The Doughertys already face several years in prison for sentences earlier this year stemming from their guilty pleas related to the Colorado high-speed chase and shootout with police that led to their capture in August 2011. They still face charges for their alleged involvement with another high-speed chase and shooting incident with a Florida police officer on the same morning as the Aug. 2, 2011, Valdosta bank robbery.

On Monday, the pair appeared before U.S. Judge Hugh Lawson who took the time to learn the correct pronunciation of their last name.

“It’s Irish. It’s just the way they pronounced it in the old country,” said Lee Grace without the contempt she displayed in May when her family name was incorrectly pronounced during their Albany arraignment.

Lee Grace and Ryan have been scheduled to reappear in Valdosta on Dec. 17 for sentencing.

Dylan Dougherty did not appear in court on Monday because of a scheduling conflict with his attorney, said Public Affairs Specialist Sue McKinney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia. Dylan could appear for sentencing today, but McKinney stated that it was only a possibility and said she could not confirm his court appearance.

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