David Scott Ghantt turned to his buddy with a grin. "Going to make a deposit," he'd say stuffing into his jeans the $10 tip millionaires would flip him for hustling their golf bags at Hilton Head Island's airport. The friend related to a Business North Carolina reporter how Ghantt would hide his beer money from his wife in a worn-out tennis shoe. A much bigger withdrawal assures Ghantt a spot in North Carolina's hall of infamy and, now, a Hollywood movie.
In October 1997, Ghantt, 27, was making $360 a week at the Loomis Fargo & Co. armored-car company in Charlotte. One night, he removed tapes from security cameras--except one, which caught his every move--at a company warehouse, loaded $17 million, and drove away.
The July 1998 BNC story reconstructed Ghantt's life and the fall evening when he became North Carolina's biggest thief. It detailed the jaw-dropping casualness with which Charlotte's banking industry then handled money. Ghantt's take weighed about 2,750 pounds.
The movie Masterminds, filmed mostly in Asheville and starring Wilkesboro native Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig, is termed a comedy "based on a true story." Some scenes, copped from a pre-release trailer, ring true to the BNC version. Ghantt did pull off the heist. His girlfriend recruited her cousin and others in a plan to have Ghantt killed after the heist. The rest of the true story? Not so much.
Unlike stocky, bearded Galifianakis, Ghantt was skinny, good-natured and simple. Nephew Jamey Ghantt said his uncle never wanted luxury living, but the theft "was just so easy."
The movie depicts Ghantt crashing through warehouse doors in an armored truck amid explosion and flames. Actually, Ghantt loaded the money into an unmarked Loomis van, opened an unlatched overhead door, met accomplices outside and drove to Gaston County. There, they put the stash into large chemical drums,...