A judge is mulling over whether former bank executive Chris Latham has to keep paying thousands of dollars a month in support to his estranged wife Nancy Latham, while they battle it out in a bitter divorce.
Nancy Latham was the intended target of an alleged murder-for-hire plot.
While Chris Latham has not been criminally charged, Nancy Latham has accused him in a suit filed against him of being involved in the scheme.
On Monday afternoon, a Charleston County Family Court judge heard arguments from both Chris and Nancy Latham’s attorneys during a hearing for their divorce. Nancy Latham appeared in the hearing with her attorneys. Chris Latham was not present. But his attorneys asked the judge to eliminate the $8,500 monthly payments to Nancy Latham because he is no longer employed at Bank of America, where he was making more than $600,000 a year.
He also would like to dip into retirement funds to pay for his expenses, according to court filings. Chris Latham stated that he is “happy to pay reasonable child support” for his daughters’ care, according to court filings.
“He needs money to pay his bills,” said Robert Rosen, Chris Latham’s attorney during the hearing.
Chris Latham was given the choice in late May of resigning, retiring or facing immediate termination from the bank, according to court filings.
He chose to retire May 30, according to emails filed to the court.
“He was in effect fired,” Rosen said. “He was told if he didn’t resign he’d be fired.”
Tim Madden, Nancy Latham’s attorney, questioned the validity of that resignation, saying, “There is not a shred of evidence he was forced to resign.”
Rosen welcomed Madden to depose Bank of America employees to confirm that.
Madden told the judge Chris Latham has spent frivolously, including paying $3,000 a month for a home on Sullivan’s Island where he and his former assistant were living together, he alleged.
“It’s because he had an affair with his assistant that we are here today,” Madden said.
Wendy Annette Moore was Chris Latham’s assistant at Bank of America and has been federally charged with conspiracy in the alleged plot to kill Nancy Latham. She’s currently in jail.
“Either his girlfriend acted alone or he colluded with her to plot to kill Ms. Latham,” Madden told the judge.
Rosen reminded the court that Chris Latham has not been criminally charged and that his name doesn’t appear in any of the criminal court filings.
“This is pure fiction,” Rosen said.
He also accused Nancy Latham of creating a media circus and blamed her for the divorce because of an alleged affair she had with another man for six years, according to court filings.
Madden pointed at Chris Latham as the man who tried to destroy two families — the family of the man that Chris Latham accused Nancy Latham of having an affair with, and House Speaker Bobby Harrell and his wife, Cathy.
In one filed affidavit, Chris Latham alleges that his wife has used Bobby Harrell and his wife “to defame me with my clients, prospective clients and other individuals to destroy my career.”
Cathy Harrell is close friends with Nancy Latham, and records suggest the Harrells were siding with her in the divorce.
But the Harrells have insisted they have done nothing to influence the outcome of the Lathams’ contentious case.
Along with Nancy Latham’s argument that Chris should continue paying support, her attorney, Madden, also asked the judge to assign a trustee to the case to control the assets. Rosen said that is not a legal option in the case.
It remains unclear when the final divorce hearing will take place. In her affidavit, Nancy Latham stated that they are three months beyond the scheduled trial date and stuck in a “purgatory of litigation.”
The Lathams have accused each other of adultery and other misbehavior, but their already contentious divorce reached a new level in April when the alleged murder-for-hire plot was exposed.
Charged were 38-year-old Samuel Yenawine of Louisville, Ky.; Yenawine’s ex-wife, 37-year-old Moore, identified as Chris Latham’s girlfriend and former assistant at the bank; Yenawine’s girlfriend, Rachel Palmer, 36, and Russell Wilkinson, 39, both of Louisville.
Yenawine killed himself June 25, when he hanged himself inside his cell at the Georgetown County jail. The other three remain in jail.
The alleged conspiracy came to light after Wilkinson was stopped by Charleston police while looking to buy heroin on the East Side.
Police found a gun in his car, and he volunteered information about the scheme to kill Nancy Latham to officers, police said. Yenawine was back in Kentucky at that point and was arrested later.
Moore is accused of hiring Yenawine to do the job, and he, in turn, contracted Wilkinson’s services to “watch his back,” Senior Agent Joseph Boykin of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has testified.
The would-be killers bought disposable cellphones so their communications couldn’t be traced, then traveled to the Lowcountry, where they met with Moore to collect a $5,000 down payment and receive a “hit package” full of photographs, maps, schedules and other information on Nancy Latham and her family, Boykin said.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.