The mastermind behind a $17,000 holdup that ended with his son robbing and shooting an ATM cash-delivery driver outside an East Side bar was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison.
Ronald Hough Sr., who planned the holdup and recruited his son to do the dirty work in October 2013, received the maximum sentence.
“You followed the victim in his van, then gave your son the green light to rough him up and rob him,” Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio told Hough.
She called the crime “deeply disturbing,” noting that the 58-year-old delivery driver was seriously wounded, underwent several surgeries, was hospitalized for a couple of weeks and now walks with a cane.
“You are quite the role model,” she told Hough.
“You’re a 53-year-old thug who taught your son how to commit crimes,” she added. “That’s sad.”
DiTullio also faulted Hough, of Monroe Street, for refusing to honor an agreement he signed when he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree robbery and promised to testify against his son at his trial last month.
“You stiffed the system, the district attorney, your attorney and the court,” she said. “You didn’t live up to your word.”
The judge also cited his criminal record, which dates from 1974 and includes six felonies among his 40 convictions.
“You’ve been committing crimes for 40 years,” she said.
Despite Hough’s refusal to testify against his 24-year-old son, Ronald Hough Jr. was convicted by a jury of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the holdup. He could face a maximum prison term of 25 years to life when DiTullio sentences him April 8.
Hough Jr. and a 16-year-old accomplice approached the delivery driver as he sat in a van outside Dinny’s Place on William Street waiting for his partner to finish filling the bar’s ATM with cash.
At Hough Jr.’s direction, prosecutors said, the teenager told the driver to hand over the remaining money.
When the driver locked the van doors and tried to call police, Hough Jr. shot him in the stomach with a 9 mm handgun, and the two robbers fled with the money, which was never recovered, prosecutors said.
The teen pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery and will be sentenced March 30.
Kenneth Land, 43, of Clark Street, also pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery for helping Hough Sr. plan the holdup and following the van as the two workers delivered cash. Land faces sentencing April 8.
William Stroud, 21, of Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty to a weapon charge and was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for possessing the pistol that was used in the robbery.
Before Hough Sr. was sentenced, Assistant District Attorney Michael P. Felicetta, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Eugene T. Partridge III, urged the judge to impose the maximum.
He said Hough Sr. told prosecutors that the holdup was his idea, indicating that he had robbed the victim before when he was working alone filling the ATMs. But after that robbery, he said, the victim brought along another worker to help him.
As a result, Felicetta said, Hough Sr. needed “some muscle,” so he got his son and others to help stage another holdup. “He’s the most culpable,” the prosecutor said. “If it wasn’t for him, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Felicetta also cited the defendant’s refusal to testify when he was called to the stand at his son’s trial.
Defense attorney John J. Gilmour said his client refused to testify because he had not been a good father to his son and wanted to help him.
Hough Sr. said he had told his son to avoid using any violence or guns during the holdup, telling him to break the van window and grab the money.