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BOMB THREAT CASE HINGES ON PSYCH EVAL

bofaA view west along West River Road in Rumson late Tuesday afternoon as police responded to a bomb threat at the bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The suspect in Tuesday’s alleged bomb threat at the Rumson Bank of America is undergoing an involuntary three-day psychological evaluation, the results of which will determine the next step in the legal proceedings, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

James Dougherty, 63, of Highlands, is charged with making terroristic threats and causing a false public alarm after threatening to blow the bank up, Administrative Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cunningham said. If convicted, Dougherty faces up to five years in state prison, Cunningham said.

Following his arrest, Dougherty was taken to the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange for evaluation. Authorities aren’t certain if Dougherty is a veteran, Cunningham said.

“Once complete, the results will dictate what happens next,” Cunningham said. “It’s possible he’ll be sent to MCCI (Monmouth County Correctional Institution) or somewhere else, I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re going to determine.”

According to Cunningham, Dougherty, who was carrying a leather briefcase, entered the bank with intentions that investigators are still unclear about. As he walked out, he’s alleged to have said, “I’m going to blow up the fucking bank,” and left the briefcase behind.

The bank called Rumson police at 4:20p, who “responded very quickly” and arrested Dougherty outside the bank on West River Road. An unidentified man who was with Dougherty was found in a car in the bank parking lot, but cleared of any charges because it was determined he had no knowledge of Dougherty’s actions, Cunnningham said.

The briefcase that Dougherty left behind wasn’t found to contain a bomb or weapons, although Cunningham is unsure of all of its contents.

“I would have been told if there was anything of significance” in the briefcase, Cunningham said.

There was no evidence that backed up an initial report that Dougherty attempted to rob the bank, he said.

Under the conditions of Dougherty’s $50,000 bail, he is not allowed to return to the bank, Cunningham said.

Once released from the VA hospital, a court date will be set for Dougherty’s first court appearance, he said.

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