When it comes to crime news, few events have had the longevity or the notoriety of the Loomis Fargo heist, which occurred 25 years ago on Oct. 4, 1997.
Few who were around then will forget the theft of $17 million in unmarked bills from the armored car company's vault in Charlotte, pulled off by a group of residents of Gaston and Cleveland counties, who were subsequently caught five months later.
"Twenty-five years ago today. If you know, you know. Have a good one y'all," wrote David Ghantt on his Facebook page Tuesday morning.
They even made a movie about it, with North Carolina native Zach Galifianakis playing the role of Ghantt in the comedy "Masterminds."
It was Ghantt, a 27-year-old Army veteran living in Kings Mountain at the time, who loaded up more than 2,000 pounds of cash in a company van and just drove away at the end of his shift as a supervisor at Loomis Fargo.
Ghantt fled to Mexico immediately after the theft, only to be caught in March 1998 when one of his co-conspirators, Steve Chambers, sent a hit man to kill Ghantt in an effort to tie up loose ends. FBI agents arrived first, which marked the beginning of the end.
Other FBI agents, who had wiretaps on Chambers' after being tipped off much earlier about his free-spending ways, were soon searching the expensive Cramer Mountain home he had bought with the proceeds.
More than 20 people ended up in the FBI's dragnet. All were convicted. Some received probation for money laundering, many others did hard time. Chambers did more than 11 years. The only person not to plead guilty in the case, former Gastonia attorney Jeff Guller, ended up doing eight years for money laundering.
Jokes soon followed the news of how Chambers and his former wife spent their ill-gotten gain. They not only moved from a trailer into an expensive house just miles away from where the theft took place, but also paid for cosmetic surgery, bought a BMW convertible, Rolex watches and other signs of excess.
Chambers and his wife decorated their new home with a "Velvet Elvis" painting, which came to represent the crime. FBI agents pulled stolen cash out of barrels they had stashed around their home.
Charlotte radio stations labeled them the "Cramer Mountain hillbillies" and the whole crew as "the gang that couldn't steal straight."
Chambers declines to comment on the events that made him notorious.
Ghantt labeled himself as a jerk who was dissatisfied with his life before stealing the money. Spending years in prison, he said, gave him time to re-invent himself. He now has a wife, a construction job, and a child.
Five years he told how he explains his past like this:
"People are very forgiving if you're open and honest right from the start. When I interviewed for this job about three years ago, I told (my boss) that I had some dirt in my background, and if he went digging for it, he would find it.
"He told me they were in the dirt business, so he didn't have to worry too much about me.
"A former co-worker told me, "Everybody has screwed up. Some people screw up big like you, some people screw up small."
"If you're trying to make yourself better today, that's all most people care about."
You can reach Kevin Ellis at 704-201-7016 or email him Kellis@GastonGazette.com.
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Loomis Fargo heist history in Charlotte.