Former Alabama basketball player Devonta Pollard has been charged with conspiring to kidnap a 6-year-old girl from an east Mississippi elementary school. The 18-year-old athlete, who played this past season as a freshman for the University of Alabama, could face up to five years in prison.
The Alabama kidnapping occurred when Pollard's mother, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard, contrived a scheme to use the 6-year-old girl as a means of pressuring the child's mother in a land dispute. Prosecutors maintain that Devonta Pollard, his mother, and five other accomplices arranged to kidnap the girl for a ransom of $50,000. According to authorities, the Alabama basketball player's mother, along with another woman, picked up the 6-year-old from East Kemper Elementary School on April 30. After grabbing the child, Jessie Mae Brown Pollard texted the 6-year-old's mother (rumored to be her own cousin) from a newly purchased cell phone at a nearby hotel in Bessemer, Alabama. "Don't call the police, I will call you later. If you call the police, you won't see her again." FBI agents later uncovered receipts for the hotel room and cell phone purchase in Devonta Pollard's car.
The Alabama kidnapping could carry a life sentence for Devonta Pollard's mother, who is considered to be the mastermind behind the disturbing debacle. Jessie Mae Brown Pollard, currently in federal custody, is reportedly being held in a facility outside of Mississippi, where her mental health is being evaluated. Devonta Pollard, on the other hand, has been released on a $10,000 bond. Pollard, who was released "with some reservation," according to Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy, tested positive for marijuana. According to the basketball player's lawyer, Lisa Ross, Pollard was hoping to enroll at East Mississippi Community College. "We intend to defend him vigorously," Ross told the press. "Of course he's concerned about his future, athletics aside. He's concerned about his liberty." If convicted, however, the fledgling basketball forward could spend up to five years behind bars.
The Alabama kidnapping plot allegedly also involved Wanda Faye Darcy, a secretary at the 6-year-old's elementary school, as well as Shamarious Ruffin, Shaquayla Johnigan, James Johnigan and Joyce Johnigan. The relationship between the aforementioned individuals and Devonta Pollard and his mother is still under investigation.