Friend of Charleston Church Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Lying to FBI

The friend of the man accused of killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to authorities and concealing information about the crime.

Twenty-one-year-old Joey Meek pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate in Columbia on Friday.

Meek is accused of knowing what Dylann Roof was planning June 17 in Charleston and failing to tell anyone about it. He also is accused of lying about the situation when he was questioned.

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Meek faces up to eight years in prison if he is convicted on both charges. The maximum sentence for lying to investigators is five years in prison and the maximum penalty for concealing information is three years in prison. Fines also are possible.

The magistrate set a bond of $100,000. It was not immediately clear if he would be able to make bail.

Court documents dated Tuesday and unsealed Friday say that Joey Meek, 21, told an FBI agent that he did not know specifics about Dylann Roof's plan to shoot the churchgoers during Bible study, but the FBI says that was a lie.

Authorities notified Meek last month that he was under investigation. He was arrested Thursday. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney to contact for comment on the case, but his girlfriend has said he is innocent. Meek was expected to appear in court for arraignment at 11 a.m. Friday.

Meek has said Roof stayed with him in before the shootings. Meek previously told The Associated Press that Roof had drunkenly complained that "blacks were taking over the world" and "someone needed to do something about it for the white race."

Roof faces federal hate crime charges as well as nine counts of murder in state court in the June 17 shootings.

On Aug. 6, Meek received a letter that he was the target of an investigation.

Meek told the AP that Roof occasionally stayed with him at a mobile home in Red Bank, about 20 miles from Columbia, before the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Meek, of Lexington, told the AP that Roof said he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun. Meek said he took the gun away from Roof the night of his drunken rant but gave it back to him when he had sobered up.

Meek also said he called authorities after recognizing Roof from surveillance footage from the church.

Meek's girlfriend, Lindsey Fry, said he called her on his cellphone Thursday afternoon and said it looked like federal agents were approaching him as he was at his job repairing air conditioners.

"They want to talk to me, but I think I'm going to jail," Fry recalled Meek saying.

He said goodbye and she hasn't heard from Meek since, Fry said outside the mobile home where they live.

He is on probation, having pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing a stolen vehicle, according to Lexington County court records.

No other family or friends who spent extensive time with Roof at the mobile home have received target letters, Fry said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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