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.
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JUNE 15: Anthony Garcia’s attorneys tried to establish that mental illness — fueled by his failure to live up to his parents’ expectations that he become a doctor — drove Garcia to four murders. The arguments came as the lawyers seek to keep Garcia from receiving the death penalty. READ MORE.
JUNE 6: Numerous changes have been made at the Omaha Police Department in the year since the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels, who was shocked with a Taser a dozen times. Bearheels, a Native American, was bipolar and schizophrenic. READ MORE.
JUNE 5: The scene in downtown Omaha on Saturday night could have come straight out of a gangster movie. Rival gangs came upon each other on the Farnam Street sidewalk along Gene Leahy Mall, and someone from each gang started to fire. Jasmine Harris, 20, was fatally shot, seven others were injured and vehicles along Farnam Street were sprayed with bullets. READ MORE.
JUNE 19: A west Omaha man who sent prostitutes to strip on his neighbor’s porch was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for possessing child pornography. READ MORE.
APRIL 20: Kayviaun Nelson was shot at the Irvington Walmart Supercenter at 6304 N. 99th St. She had been involved in a dispute elsewhere in Omaha and “it came to a head” in the Walmart lot. Two have been arrested in connection with her death. READ MORE.
MAY 22: The Omaha man — 19 when he committed his crimes — had just told a judge that his life hit a turning point after he had sat in jail for the past seven months, thinking about his crime of helping another teen use an online dating service to lure seven men to be robbed. Then Judge Mark Ashford pronounced his sentence: 24 to 40 years in prison. READ MORE.
JUNE 22: A half-dozen people were involved in the half-baked scheme to bribe a juror who would help decide the fate of a double-murder defendant, Douglas County prosecutors say. READ MORE.
MAY 1: In a cold case that lasted 10 years from crime to conviction, it took just 10 minutes for Douglas County District Judge Thomas Otepka to sentence Charles Simmer, 34, to a life term for the Nov. 3, 2007, slaying of his aunt. READ MORE.
APRIL 26: Jacob Ford contended that he dropped his baby daughter and she hit her head on a crib railing and the floor. But prosecutors argued — and a judge agreed — that shaking and slamming were the causes of the massive brain damage that 7-week-old Skyler suffered. READ MORE.
APRIL 20: Judge Shelly Stratman estimated, conservatively, that the then-9-year-old boy was sexually assaulted about 52 times by a man he considered a father figure. It would have been easier to stay silent. But he spoke up. “He’s a very brave young man,” said Stratman. READ MORE.
APRIL 11: “I just enjoy killing. Simple as that.” In the days after he strangled an acquaintance, Airman 1st Class Rhianda Dillard, Wilsey poured out his thoughts, and his murderous ambitions, in the handwritten pages of his journal. READ MORE.
APRIL 9: A woman accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed a girl and injured the girl’s mother pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving/causing serious bodily injury. READ MORE.
JUNE 21: In one swipe, Christopher Wheeler forever changed Teresa Spagna’s life — leaving a “big scar” across her throat, and her psyche. Judge Shelly Stratman sentenced Wheeler to 30 days in jail, followed by five years of probation. Wheeler, who had no record, had faced up to 20 years in prison. READ MORE.
JUNE 5: Brandon Weathers is sentenced to 160-200 years in prison. For the vicious torture and rapes of four women in 2002 and 2004. For violating the sanctity of their homes, their bodies and their sense of security. For defying the law — with an assist from state prison officials — by refusing to submit a DNA sample. READ MORE.
MARCH 2: A judge had just lamented the turf war that claimed the life of 22-year-old Terrance Gunn. Then the feud spilled onto the judge’s turf. READ MORE.
MARCH 1: An Omaha man was convicted Thursday of three counts of first-degree murder and weapon use in the July 2012 deaths of a methamphetamine dealer and his teenage sons. READ MORE.
MARCH 1: Judge Shelly Stratman had sentenced defendants for horrible fatal crashes. Never had she seen a wreck where everyone survived but had such wildly different views of the crash’s impact. READ MORE.
FEB. 28: Every morning, Steven Edwards would text a friend 20 years his senior to make sure he was OK. Edwards also checked on homeless Native Americans and let people stay in his apartment, although he himself had little to spare. Amid his kindness, he was fatally stabbed and set on fire by his niece’s boyfriend, whom he let stay under his roof. READ MORE.
FEB. 21: A former Douglas County jailer at the center of a love-triangle killing will see the inside of a correctional facility from a new perspective. READ MORE.
FEB. 9: The now-17-year-old victim gave an ultimatum to Judge Duane Dougherty: Impose a sentence of 52 years. “If you give him anything less than (that), you are basically saying that you don’t care if it happens again,” the girl said. “You’re putting another person at risk of having to go through what I’ve gone through. And nobody should have to go through what I’ve gone through.” READ MORE.
MARCH 10: Three girls who looked to Lee Dunbar as a father were, instead, sexually assaulted by him. A jury decided as much in January. On Friday, Douglas County District Judge Marlon Polk sentenced Dunbar, a 67-year-old retired Omaha fire captain, to the minimum sentence of 15 years on each of the five first-degree sexual assault counts he had been convicted of. READ MORE.
JAN. 23: A gang member prosecutors describe as a “menace” was sentenced to life in prison for firing 10 shots at a rival gang member in the middle of the day — and instead killing Barbara Williams, 55, a grandma who had been chatting on a stoop. READ MORE.
JAN. 18: A man accused of fatally shooting an Army sergeant outside a bar stole his necklaces and later admitted to the shooting, a prosecutor said. Kyle LeFlore, 27, was shot in the chest at close range and died soon after being rushed to the hospital early Jan. 6. READ MORE.