Three arrested for ransom plot involving Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair


Ramon Antonio Vargas

The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate

Apr. 14—A third suspect linked to the strange ransom plot involving a threat to turn an Alabama Confederate monument into a toilet was jailed in New Orleans over the weekend.

Jason Warnick (top), 32, Stanley Pate (middle), 34, and Kathryn Diionno, 24, were charged with possessing stolen property.

Investigators booked Stanley Pate, 34, on Saturday with a count of possessing stolen property. His arrest came two days after police jailed Jason Warnick, 32, and Kathryn Diionno, 24, on the same count following the recovery of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Chair in the Upper 9th Ward. All three suspects have been released from custody on their own recognizance.

Thieves last month stole the ornately carved, 500-pound stone relic from a cemetery in Selma, Alabama. Its value is estimated at $500,000.

After the chair was stolen on March 19, a group calling itself “White Lies Matter” threatened to use it as a toilet if its owners, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, did not hang a certain banner outside their headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, by the 156th anniversary of the Confederate surrender ending the Civil War, according to news media reports in Alabama. The banner included a quote from Black Liberation Army activist Assata Shakur, who was linked to a New Jersey state trooper’s murder in 1973: “The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.”

News of a $5,000 reward for the chair’s recovery prompted a tip to authorities that the monument was being held inside a storage room at a Faubourg Marigny tattoo shop owned by Warnick and Diionno in the 1000 block of Touro Street. Police said they identified Warnick and Diionno as suspects after finding surveillance video showing several people moving the hulking chair out of their shop and into the back of a rental van.

The chair was ultimately found at the intersection of North Galvez and Feliciana streets on Thursday, after someone sent the GPS coordinates to the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Officers recovered the chair, returned it to its owners and booked Diionno as well as Warnick. They also obtained a warrant to arrest Pate.

Attorneys for Diionno and Warnick said the pair’s arrests were a mistake and they were innocent.

The Davis chair honors the sole president of the Confederacy, who was also a slave owner. Such monuments have come under increasing attack by activists ever since a counter protester was killed in 2017 during a white supremacist rally against the removal of a Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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