Joseph Carlton Meek, a close friend of accused Charleston, South Carolina, church killer Dylann Roof, was indicted Friday on charges that he lied about having knowledge of Roof’s racist plot to murder African-Americans, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. Meek, a 21-year-old native of Lexington, South Carolina, pleaded not guilty to charges of misprision of a felony and making false statements.
A U.S. District Court judge ordered Meek held on a $100,000 bond, the local Fox affiliate WCSC-TV reported. Another hearing in the case has been set for next week.
Meek is accused of taking steps to conceal his prior knowledge of crimes committed by Roof, who shot dead nine parishioners during a Bible study meeting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17. Meek told an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he did not know the specifics of Roof’s plan, but later told media outlets that his friend spoke about wanting to harm blacks before the attacks.
If convicted on the misprision charge, Meek faces up to three years in prison, according to the Justice Department. The false statement offense carries a sentence of up to five years.
Dylann Roof's friend, Joseph Meek, who admits he should have done more to prevent Wednesday's shooting. pic.twitter.com/HgURITHuQf
— Frances Robles (@FrancesRobles) June 19, 2015
Meek, who was arrested Thursday afternoon by the FBI, had been notified by letter Aug. 6 that he was a “potential target” in the investigation. The letter stated Meek was under investigation for lying to law enforcement and for failing to report a crime. Authorities gave him until Aug. 21 to respond to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia.
Meek reportedly told the state officials Tuesday that he did not believe he committed a crime and said he was the one who called police after seeing Roof’s picture on TV after the Charleston church massacre.
Roof had been staying with Meek and his family in their mobile home in Red Bank, South Carolina, before the shootings. After the shooting was reported, Meek told media outlets that Roof often complained about blacks when he was drunk and had said "someone needed to do something about it for the white race," the Associated Press reported.
Meek also knew Roof had bought a gun and said that he had hidden the gun from Roof during his drunken rant until he had sobered up. Roof, who is also 21, faces federal hate crime charges and nine counts of murder in state court. The state has said it will seek the death penalty if Roof is convicted.