Veteran South Carolina sheriff charged with corruption

State and federal prosecutors say indictments in South Carolina stem from a partnership against public corruption.
By Frances Burns  |  June 17, 2014 at 7:36 PM
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COLUMBIA, S.C., June 17 (UPI) -- A veteran South Carolina sheriff was charged Tuesday with taking bribes to interfere with the processing of detainees in a local immigrant facility.

An indictment was handed up by a federal grand jury naming Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts and two other men. Metts allegedly accepted bribes from Danny Frazier, 46, and Greg Leon, 47, both of Lexington, to interfere with the identification and handling of some detainees.

Another former law enforcement officer in Lexington County was charged in an unrelated case. Jason Amodio, who resigned last year after 11 years as police chief in the small town of South Congaree, took bribes involving gambling machines, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said.

In the Metts case, Frazier is a former Lexington councilman and Leon the owner of Mexican restaurants. Metts, who could receive a substantial prison term if he is convicted, was charged with fraud, bribery and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

Gov. Nikki Haley quickly suspended Metts and named his former second-in-command to serve as sheriff temporarily.

In South Congaree, a town of about 2,300 near the Columbia airport, Amodio and his police department were known for hard-nosed traffic enforcement, the State reported. The town got more revenue from traffic citations than municipalities many times its size.

Amodio resigned last year three weeks after a raid on his office.

Both Wilson and U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said the indictments are a result of a new state-federal partnership against public corruption.

"These indictments are a product of a new team at the United States Attorney's Office whose goal is to use an unprecedented level of cooperation with state and federal agencies in routing out public corruption and returning public trust to the people," Wilson said.

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