Joey Meek pleads not guilty, bond set at $100k on lying to feds charge

WEB EXTRA: Dylann Roof's best friend says he's "speechless"
Published: Sep. 17, 2015 at 9:02 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2015 at 7:37 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WIS) - A friend of the man charged with killing nine people in at a church in Charleston appeared in federal court on Friday where he entered a not guilty plea.

An official said Joey Meek, 21, of Lexington County was arrested Thursday, accused of lying to federal authorities. His bond was set at $100,000.

According to the indictment, Meek "stated to a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he did not know specifics of Dylann Roof's plan to shoot individuals on a Wednesday, during Bible study, at an AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina."

Meek faces up to eight years in prison if he is convicted on both charges. He is currently being held at the Lexington County Detention Center.

Authorities notified Meek last month they had begun investigating him for lying to investigators and failing to report a crime.

Meek has said Dylann Roof, the alleged church shooter, stayed with him before the June 17 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal.

Meek 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."

"He was under the radar and low-key," Meek said. "He kept to himself. He didn't really have friends besides me and my friends at the time."

Meek said he last saw Roof on the Tuesday before the shooting.

"He was supposed to come back to my house that night or Wednesday morning, and he never did show up," Meek said.

WEB EXTRA: Watch Joey Meek's interview from June.

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

Meek also said he called authorities after recognizing Roof from surveillance footage from the church. But, according to a federal law enforcement official, authorities believe Meek was dishonest with them during their investigation. That official also was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and requested anonymity.

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.

Fry said she doesn't know if Meek has an attorney or where he is being held, but earlier told AP that Meek is innocent.

Federal officials can keep investigations secret until someone is charged, or they can opt to let subjects know they are under investigation - as they did with Meek in a letter Aug. 6 - in hopes that the subject will get an attorney, according to Rene Josey, a former U.S. Attorney now in private practice in South Carolina.

Meek is currently 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.

Associated Press writer Seanna Adcox in Red Bank contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press and WIS. All rights reserved.