Just two days before the second anniversary of the crime that changed James Bowman’s life, one of the alleged masterminds avoided prison.
Daniel Dougherty, 37, was sentenced to 3 years probation Friday after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Dougherty admitted he aided and abetted in the home-invasion robbery in which at least five masked men stormed Bowman’s Wimer home, tortured him, filled a U-Haul truck with the licensed grower’s marijuana, then left Bowman tied up in the cold for his staff to find him hours later.
Wearing a gray suit and tie, Dougherty was mostly quiet and showed little emotion during the hearing. He closed his eyes and kept his head down as Bowman recounted how he’s still struggling to move forward from the Dec. 16, 2016, torture.
“Their actions have totally devastated my life,” Bowman said. “I’ve become a shell of who I was.”
Bowman said he lost his home and his four businesses within the first year of the robbery. Two years later, he still can’t hold down a job because of physical- and mental-health issues.
He walks slowly because of lasting nerve damage to his feet and speaks with a slight whistle owing to lingering oral surgery issues from the robbers’ repeated blows to his face. He saysd he has severe post-traumatic stress disorder from when Georgia men tortured him for about two hours with power tools, a butane torch, a golf club and cold water.
Dougherty is the fifth man convicted of eight charged in the marijuana theft.
Of those five, only three men from Georgia have been sentenced to prison, and none of the robbery charges have stuck so far. In January, Edward A. Molet was sentenced to 60 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and aggravated first-degree theft. In April, Derrick Earl Shields was sentenced to 45 months in prison after a jury found him guilty of first-degree burglary and aggravated theft, and in November, Charles James Hatchett was sentenced to 37 months in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree burglary and aggravated first-degree theft.
Dougherty, of Jacksonville, and co-defendant Frank William Foremski, of Gold Hill, have each been sentenced to probation thus far; however, Foremski still faces a charge of second-degree robbery until prosecutors close the case.
At Dougherty’s hearing, Bowman expressed frustration at his sentence.
“He wasn’t a bit player,” Bowman told Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack. “I can’t even comprehend how he got less than everybody else.”
Bowman said in court that he first met Dougherty and Foremski a year and a half before the robbery, in 2015, when they presented themselves as Pennsylvania-based businessmen with millions of dollars to invest in the state’s newly legal recreational marijuana business.
Bowman said he’d hoped their investment could help him stay competitive with farms owned outside the state and met with them multiple times. He stopped meeting with them roughly a month after answering their Craigslist ad, when Bowman said their meetings didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Deputy District Attorney Johan Pietila, who recently took over the case, said that proving Dougherty’s role in the scheme would have been difficult to prove at trial. He described the outcome as a “really unfortunate series of events” that would hold Dougherty accountable.
Dougherty’s lawyer, Christopher Missiaen, didn’t speak about his client’s role in the marijuana robbery beyond admitting that Dougherty was aiding and abetting. Attention shifted back to Bowman after Missean brought up a DEA raid on Bowman’s property from 2012. (Corrected spelling)
Barnack said hadn’t heard of Bowman’s raid before, even though Bowman told the judge it was “not a secret.” Bowman said he was never charged with a crime in U.S. District Court, and refuted any assertions he acted outside the law.
That led Barnack to the conclusion that the case was a crime of opportunity, but told Dougherty, “You did commit a crime.”
If Dougherty fails to comply with any terms of his probation for the next three years, he’ll serve 22 months in prison, Barnack warned him.
Correction: The story printed Dec. 15 incorrectly spelled the name of Dougherty's lawyer, Christopher Missiaen. His name has been corrected in the online version of the story.