He didn’t know it but, for a few days, an Omaha thief was lord of the ring.

A 60-year-old Omaha man had spotted a purse inside a 2005 Lexus SUV in Creighton Prep’s parking lot last April.

It would have been a typical smash-and-grab — smash window, grab belongings, skedaddle — except for what was inside the purse that he grabbed: a $629,000 platinum wedding ring.

Tuesday, the now-61-year-old man paid a price for his expensive theft.

Douglas County District Judge Timothy Burns sentenced Ralph Dorsey to 2 to 4 years in prison — a term that is cut in half under state sentencing guidelines.

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The owner of the ring didn’t show up for the sentencing hearing. Nor did she issue a victim impact statement to the court.

However, it should be noted that the ring was worth more than 60 times the value of the SUV it was sitting in.

It also is worth more than the appraised value of the woman’s home. And for that matter, it is worth more than 97 percent of the houses in Omaha.

Alas, the 72-year-old woman apparently got tired of carrying that house on her finger. So that spring Saturday, she stuffed it in her purse — and locked it in an SUV.

Omaha police were able to track down the ring after a witness reported seeing a couple peering into cars and trying to open doors in the parking lot of the private school near 72nd Street and Western Avenue. The witness wrote down the license plate number of the car the couple left in.

Police then contacted the owner of the fleeing car — Monique Pierce. Pierce initially denied involvement in the theft. But after officers got hold of Dorsey, he told them that he had given two rings to Pierce. Pierce eventually admitted that she had one of the rings and turned it over to police. That ring turned out to be the $629,000 ring.

She told police that she turned over the other ring — worth far less — to her mother.

Pierce, a 52-year-old Omahan who had a less lengthy record, was sentenced to one day in jail and fined $500.

Tuesday, Assistant Public Defender Brenda Leuck urged the judge to consider placing Dorsey on probation — based on the recommendation of a probation officer conducting a presentence report.

Leuck also noted that Dorsey was cooperative with police and has had a history of health problems, including two artificial valves in his heart.

“I know you have some health problems,” Burns said, “but you were certainly healthy enough to go wander through Prep’s parking lot, looking for something to steal.”

Burns agreed that Dorsey had no idea that the purse contained Omaha’s version of the Hope diamond.

However, the judge said, he was more concerned with Dorsey’s record than the ring. Dorsey had served four separate prison stints for theft — the longest an 8- to 20-year term that ended earlier this decade.

Burns later told the courtroom that Dorsey, who has a number of thefts on his record, is serving life in prison on “the installment plan.”

“Where you’re in for a few years, then out for a few years,” Burns said. “Then you look back on your life and you see that you spent it in and out of prison. You don’t want that. Nobody wants that.”

Sentencing done, Dorsey left the courtroom with his head bowed. A sheriff’s deputy escorted him to prison, two large silver rings wrapped around his wrists.

Reporter - Courts

Todd Cooper covers courts, lawyers, trials, legal issues, the justice system and government wrongdoing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @CooperonCourts. Phone: 402-444-1275.

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