‘Never mind me.’ N.C. parolee posts videos of himself posing with guns, cash, dope, feds say
A jail call to his girlfriend after his arrest didn't help matters either
By Michael Gordon
The Charlotte Observer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to court documents, Joseph Banks had guns, cash and dope. But what he apparently wanted most was attention.
While some criminal suspects inadvertently leave clues for police, the Charlotte man produced, narrated and starred in a veritable film festival of his illegal activity — posting online videos in which he flashed large amounts of firearms, wads of cash and an impressive stash of marijuana, court documents show.
All this creative output took place while Banks was on supervised release from a 2018 conviction for Possession by a Convicted Felon — meaning, it would be a crime for Banks to have guns, much less be waving them around on Facebook in the company of bags containing a leafy green substance and suspiciously large amounts of U.S. currency.
Now, the 30-year-old is back in the Mecklenburg County Jail charged with a parole violation. He is also at the center of a new legal fight led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte to seize more than $8,000 in cash found in the Charlotte apartment Banks shared with his girlfriend on the day of his May arrest, documents show.
Any legal defense for retaining the money could prove complicated. In May, Banks and the girlfriend, identified in court records as Maleka Charnae Richardson, argued on the phone over the circumstances of the raid by U.S. marshals on the apartment a few days earlier, and how the couple failed to get their stories straight about the money.
First, let the record show that Mecklenburg jail calls by inmates are recorded.
He: “I tried telling them the money was yours, but you told them the money was mine.”
She: “I didn’t say s---.”
He: “That s--- crazy. Your ass opened the door so g—d--- quick, I was trying to hide my money.”
She: “B—ch, I didn’t do s---.”
The attorney for Banks in his 2018 case, David Hitchens of Charlotte, did not respond to an Observer email seeking comment.
According to documents in his case, Banks’s video productions began to find an audience among law enforcement just after Christmas. On Dec. 30, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police received a tip that Banks was violating his parole by carrying a handgun and dealing drugs, documents claim.
The cops soon found a Facebook page belonging to “Bebe Banks,” and sat back and waited for the show.
The curtain went up on Feb. 27, according to documents, when Banks posted a video of himself driving a car holding a large wad of cash with a Glock-style pistol in his lap.
That same day, prosecutors claim, Banks posted another video that panned over a large amount of marijuana and multiple stacks of currency. “... That real s--- right there,” Banks says in the background.
And so it went:
In a cameo appearance on another user’s Facebook page included in court documents, Banks posed with two semi-automatic rifles held up to his face; later, with two handfuls of cash. “Lol great day,” the caption reads.
A March video on Banks’s own Facebook page — entitled “These props” — featured eight firearms laid out on a kitchen counter.
A second video that same month had Banks posing in a laundry room with cash and dope. In a tip of the hat to product placement, a bag of Cheetos rests on the dryer.
“Never mind me,” the caption read.
Police had other plans.
Tracking Banks’s cell phone, law enforcement officers learned that he was staying overnight at Richardson’s apartment not far from South Tryon Street and Tyvola Road, a location Banks had not reported to his parole officer.
There, documents allege, the U.S. marshals found 2.2 pounds of marijuana, three dozen THC vape pens, and a whole bunch of 20 dollar bills — 402 to be exact.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bain-Creed said in a court filing that the money is likely tied to illegal drug sales and thus can be legally seized by the government.
According to filings, the judge also will hear from Richardson. On the night of the raid, according to the government, she told federal authorities she had no idea how so much money found its way into her apartment.
Now she says it’s hers, according to documents, and has filed a claim to get the money back.
©2021 The Charlotte Observer.