Crime & Courts

Suspect in $10,000 Forest Acres bank heist linked to other crimes, denied bond

Tattooed bank robber gets bond hearing

Samuel Levone Neathery attempted to rob a bank in Columbia, SC and fled to Florida where he was caught by police, according to authorities. Here is his bond hearing.
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Samuel Levone Neathery attempted to rob a bank in Columbia, SC and fled to Florida where he was caught by police, according to authorities. Here is his bond hearing.

Two alleged bank robbers who hit a Forest Acres credit union earlier this year threatened to kidnap people if they didn’t get what they wanted and forced employees into the vault to give them cash, according to a deputy solicitor.

Friday, Samuel Levone Neathery appeared in a South Carolina court for the first time since being accused of holding up the Forest Drive South Carolina Federal Credit Union on Feb. 5. A judge denied him bond, and he will stay in jail awaiting trial.

At a bond hearing, Neathery spoke out against the allegations while Deputy Solicitor Daniel Goldberg described events that only the suspects and people inside the bank could have known before now.

Neathery is charged with armed robbery, six counts of kidnapping and a gun crime. The pair of suspects attempted a getaway, which led to a five-vehicle collision and Neathery’s accomplice, Daisy Feliberty, being shot by police. Neathery fled, making it to Florida, authorities say.

Neathery and Feliberty allegedly forced the bank’s workers into the vault and got angry when they saw the amount of money, Goldberg told Judge Mildred Rita Metts. The duo threatened the workers, Goldberg said.

“’We’ve done this before,’” Goldberg said that Neathery told the workers.

While in the vault, a drive-thru employee called 911 and told authorities about the robbery taking place, according to Goldberg. The two suspects got out with $10,000 before crashing their car just outside the bank, ending their run and forcing Neathery on the lam.

Inside the wrecked vehicle, police also found stolen money connected to a bank job in Connecticut, Goldberg told the judge. Authorities also tied Neathery and his partner to another Florida robbery, the deputy solicitor said.

While police embarked on a two-day search for Neathery in Forest Acres, the Florida native had already escaped to Orangeburg, S.C., and eventually made it to a Florida motel, Goldberg told the court.

U.S. Marshals arrested Neathery outside the motel. Inside the room, the feds found guns, including a long gun, and drugs, Goldberg said. Some of money from the robberies is still missing.

Neathery stood before the judge, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back and his ankles shackled.

He said no evidences shows he committed the crime. He denied fleeing the state as authorities have said. He never fled because “I never knew I had any criminal charges,” Neathery told the judge.

“I was not aware that I had a warrant in this state,” he said.

He was at his mother’s house in Florida during part of the time that authorities searched for him, Neathery claimed, saying no one reached out to his mother or sent a warrant to the house where she’s lived for more than a decade.

Before the hearing, Neathery waived his right to a public defender, Metts said. When Metts annouced the suspect’s decision, he protested, saying he had his own lawyer but was denied access to a phone to call the attorney.

“I’ve been placed in a room with no phone or nothing,” he said.

Making an appeal to receive bond, Neathery told the judge he has ties to Columbia and admitted he was in Forest Acres at the time of robbery. He said he could stay and pay rent at an apartment in Forest Acres. An officer stopped him on the day of the robbery near the apartment complex, Neathery said.

The fact that Neathery had ties to the community that was put on edge by the robbery and the ensuing manhunt didn’t bother Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy, he said. With Neathery denying the charges, Sealy said, “he can say anything he wants to.”

“He’s here to face those charges,” Sealy said.

Pleading his case would happen in court, Sealy said.

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.