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Man Convicted in Cemetery Theft

May 31, 2000

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A jury Tuesday convicted an antiques dealer accused of ordering statues, urns and other artifacts stolen from ornate tombs in the city’s above-ground cemeteries. Two others were acquitted.

Antiques dealer Peter Patout was convicted of conspiracy and two counts of possession of stolen property. Seller Aaron Jarabica and antiques collector Roy Boucvalt were acquitted of all charges.

Patout’s lawyer, Arthur Lemann, said the convictions would be appealed. Patout faces up to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors said the theft scheme stretched as far as Los Angeles and New York, where some of the $800,000 in stolen items were recovered. The artifacts included angels, urns and benches taken from the historic cemeteries.

The trial included testimony of four graveyard robbers, who pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentenced.

The thieves were caught in 1998, after a worker jotted down the license number of a van cruising among the rows of tombs at Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery.

The cemetery is one of the fanciest in the city. Some of the tombs are built like tiny chapels. One is a pyramid, with a small sphinx in front. Another is a miniature cathedral.

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