One of the Kentucky men accused in an alleged plot to kill a woman going through a divorce battle with a Lowcountry bank executive and community leader will head to Charleston to face charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin of the Western Kentucky District ruled Tuesday that there is probable cause to charge Samuel Arthur Yenawine, 38, of Louisville.
Yenawine was arrested in Kentucky after a man who was pulled over in a traffic stop in Charleston said he and Yenawine had been hired to kill Nancy Latham.
Latham is a real estate agent and treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission. She is married to Chris Latham, a Bank of America executive who is vice president of Spoleto Festival USA and a board member of the Trident Technical College Foundation.
They have been going through a bitter divorce that was put on hold after allegations of a plot to kill Nancy Latham surfaced.
Russell Wilkinson, 39, of Louisville told investigators he and Yenawine had been hired to kill Nancy Latham. He said they were being paid by Wendy Annette Moore, 37, of Sullivan’s Island, who is Chris Latham’s personal assistant and Yenawine’s ex-wife.
Yenawine, Wilkinson and Moore were arrested. Chris Latham has not been charged, although his wife accused him of being part of the alleged plot in a civil lawsuit this week.
Yenawine’s attorney, Bill Butler, depicted Wilkinson as a heroin addict and convicted felon whose story holds no credibility. Butler pointed out that Wilkinson and his wife were pulled over in an area of Charleston known for drug trafficking.
ATF agent Joseph Boykin acknowledged that Wilkinson and his wife admitted they used heroin, but agents were able to corroborate Wilkinson’s story about the plot. Boykin also testified that Moore wired money to Yenawine twice before he and Wilkinson drove to Charleston to scope out killing Nancy Latham. Butler countered that it’s not unusual for an ex-wife to mail her ex-husband money when children are involved and it wasn’t necessarily connected to any alleged plot.
Yenawine continues to maintain his innocence.
Yenawine served 10 years in prison after being convicted of burning down an apartment where a bouncer was stabbed to death. The bouncer worked for an adult entertainment business Moore owned called Brooke and Wendy Modeling.
Yenawine is being held in the Grayson County Detention Center. No date has been set for his transfer to Charleston.
Meanwhile, Charleston police continued to stand firm on withholding police reports related to the murder-for-hire plot. Police said they are honoring a request from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to keep the reports from public view while a federal investigation continues. Bill Nettles, U.S. attorney for South Carolina, said he reviewed the reports Tuesday and believes they are exempt from disclosure under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act because their premature release could harm a prospective law-enforcement action.
“I have a duty to uphold the Constitution, but I also have a duty to run an effective investigation,” he said.
Under the state law, however, the agency that drafted the reports must show that it would be harmed by their release; an outside agency’s investigation does not factor in. The extent of any Charleston police charges against anyone accused in the alleged plot is a single count of driving under suspension against Wilkinson.
Glenn Smith of The Post and Courier and Mark Vanderhoff of the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.