Lexington County Sheriff Indicted on Bribery, Wire Fraud Charges

Sheriff Metts Indicted on Federal Charges of Bribery, Wire Fraud

indictedSouth Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff has been indicted on federal charges, including wire fraud and bribery, making him the 8th sheriff in the last 4 years to face federal charges or an investigation in the state.

According to US Attorney Bill Nettles, 68-year-old Lexington County Sheriff James Metts faces 10 charges of accepting bribes, as well as federal charges of wire fraud and conspiracy.

The 28-page indictment states that Metts allowed friends to buy favors, accepted cash bribes in exchange for helping people who were detained for being in the country illegally. The wire fraud indictment detail several phone calls between former Lexington Town councilman and Metts – the former councilman acted as a go-between on behalf of the owner of several Mexican restaurants. Metts allegedly accepted an envelope full of cash in exchange for keeping restaurant employees off the federal databases of illegal immigrants.

“It was the purpose of the conspiracy for defendant Metts to enrich himself by using and agreeing to use his official position, power and influence in exchange for cash,” the indictment states.

Metts has been in office since 1972, and has received a number of awards for his time as sheriff. In August 2010, he signed the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, to put any illegal immigrants found in the county in county jail.

Within an hour after the federal wire fraud and bribery charges were released, Governor Nikki Haley suspended the Lexington Sheriff and appointed Lewis McCarty, who retired in 1999 after 30 years with the Lexington Sheriff’s Department. McCarty accepted the interim position.

“Sheriff Metts has dedicated his life to law enforcement and serving the citizens of Lexington County,” his attorneys, Scott Schools and Sherri Lydon, said. “He denies the allegations and looks forward to his day in court.”

Three other people were indicted by the grant jury – former Lexington town councilman Danny Frazier, 46; ex-South Congaree police chief Jason Amodio, 45; and 47-year-old Greg Leon, the owner of the San Jose Mexican restaurant chain that imported illegal workers.

County clerk of court Beth Carrigg said, “It’s certainly a sad set of circumstances not only for the longest-serving sheriff in the state of South Carolina but also for the community as a whole.”

Metts faces up to 20 years in prison for the federal charges, as well as a $250,000 fine for the most serious charge, wire fraud.

“Public corruption at any level will not be tolerated,” U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said in announcing the indictment.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Federal Charges and RICO Defense in South Carolina

RICO charges involve the operation of an illegal business or enterprise, including a fraudulent scams, for an individual or entity’s personal profit. RICO stands for Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations, and RICO offenses can include, but are not limited to:

  • Gambling
  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Extortion
  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Bribery
  • Embezzlment
  • Money laudering
  • Acts of terrorism

Given the possible consequences at stake, it is critical that you contact a federal charges defense attorney who can protect your rights and provide you an aggressive and well planned defense against murder charges, kidnapping indictments, or wire fraud charges. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800

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