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Suspect in Rock Hill bank robbery was released this year after a previous robbery conviction

Facing at least 35 years in prison if convicted of robbing a Rock Hill credit union – and just months out of federal prison for the same crime – Jay Richard Brantley yawned in court Friday morning.

Apparently, getting caught for robbing a bank is old hat for the 35-year-old York man. No big deal.

Brantley and two others charged in connection with Wednesday’s robbery of the ArrowPointe Federal Credit Union branch on Heckle Boulevard made their first appearances before a judge Friday.

Federal prison records show Brantley walked out of prison Jan. 10, after serving most of a 10-year sentence for robbing a Mississippi bank and attempted robberies of several other banks in 2005 in Tennessee, Alabama and elsewhere. Brantley also has spent time in prison for being a small-time dope dealer and for other crimes large and small.

In 2005, Brantley and two others from York walked into banks, slipped notes demanding money to tellers, then drove off. Police caught Brantley and his cohorts after the last robbery in February 2005.

After a chase along busy Interstate 55 in Mississippi that reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

After they crashed into a magnolia tree.

On Jan. 15 – just days after being released from federal prison – Brantley was charged with forgery by York County sheriff’s deputies stemming from a previous case. He was released on $3,000 bond two days later, court records show, and the charges were dismissed in March.

Police say Brantley didn’t stop plotting crimes.

Brantley is accused of being the mastermind of Wednesday’s robbery that terrified bank employees. His co-defendant, an ex-con himself named James Derrick Catledge, allegedly took a note demanding money into an ArrowPointe Credit Union Branch on Wednesday before noon.

Brantley allegedly wrote the note, just as he and his gang wrote heist notes in 2005.

Rock Hill Municipal Judge Jane Modla told Brantley in court that “I am looking at your rap sheet, and it shows you were convicted in 2006.”

“I’m on federal probation,” Brantley said.

“For what?” Modla asked.

“Bank robbery,” said Brantley.

The lead detective in the Wednesday robbery investigation, Ryan Thomas from the Rock Hill Police Department, explained that Brantley was on probation from “being involved in several robberies in multiple states” in 2005.

“No, I did my time,” Brantley said. “Federal time.”

Modla then asked Brantley, “How much time is hanging over your head” from the past bank robbery convictions, meaning how much probation must he serve after his release from federal prison.

“Two years,” Brantley said.

Federal court documents show that after the 2005 crime spree, Brantley was sentenced to three years probation to run after his prison sentence.

Thomas, the Rock Hill detective, told Modla the FBI and federal probation officials are also looking at Brantley’s arrest Wednesday.

In the Wednesday robbery, police say Brantley waited in the getaway car parked at a nearby restaurant. They say Catledge took a grocery bag into the bank to carry out the money. He allegedly walked out with $9,835.

Brantley and Catledge fled Wednesday and divvied up the loot, police allege, with Brantley getting the lion’s share. Then April Blackwelder, 33, who left a teenaged son in Alabama to come to York three weeks ago, came into the picture. Blackwelder is charged with accessory after the fact on accusations that she hid part of the money then lied to police about it after officers started looking for Catledge, her boyfriend.

Catledge, however, has another girlfriend with whom he has a 6-month-old child. Catledge, the other girlfriend and the child live with Catledge’s mother in York. Catledge, 34, said in court he has not had a job since 2001. He receives food stamps.

On Friday, Brantley walked into Rock Hill court wearing shackles and chains.

“It says here you were coaching Catledge through the crimes and received the bulk of the money,” Modla said in court.

Brantley admitted nothing, unlike Catledge, the co-defendant. Catledge blurted out in open court that he wanted to plead guilty right then and there, but the judge said it was too soon.

Catledge, most recently in prison for burglary, has the tattoo “Hardhead” emblazoned across his back. He sported several other jailhouse tattoos, but “Hardhead” was the most eye-catching.

Brantley made no such demand to plead guilty, however.

“I want a public defender,” said Brantley, who knows the drill. A public defender has represented Brantley on state charges and federal charges many times before. Public defenders are paid for by taxpayers with jobs. Brantley, an ex-con with no job, knows how courts work.

It is unclear how Brantley’s most recent arrest took place or if Brantley gave any statements to police. Brantley was charged Wednesday on an outstanding warrant from Chester County over the theft of an iPhone that stemmed from a car breakin-in, said Trent Faris, spokesman for the York County Sheriff’s Office. The York County Detention Center’s website shows Brantley was booked into the county jail at around 1:40 a.m. Thursday.

Catledge was not arrested until around noon Thursday after a guy reading The Herald with Catledge’s wanted photo called the cops to say Catledge had just passed by him in eastern Rock Hill.

Brantley admitted nothing in court Friday. He looked around the courtroom and filled out required documents showing he knows what he is charged with and that because he is poor, he should get another free lawyer.

Brantley finished signing his name and before leaving the courtroom stretched a little and stifled another yawn.

Courts, bank robberies – maybe for Jay Richard Brantley, facing as much as 35 years in prison plus an extra stretch for violating probation from previous bank jobs, the whole thing after the cops catch you is a bore.

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