South Carolina sheriff denies bribe, fraud charges

Suspended Lexington County Sheriff James Metts leaves the Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia, S.C. after pleading not guilty to federal misconduct charges and being released on a $100,000 bond. South Carolina's longest-serving sheriff is accused of lining his pockets by doing favors for friends.



COLUMBIA— South Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff has pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges.


Lexington County Sheriff James Metts entered that plea Tuesday in federal court in Columbia.


Metts was also allowed to post bond. He left court without speaking to reporters, and his next court appearance has not been scheduled.


Prosecutors say the longtime sheriff allowed friends to buy favors, accepting cash in return for agreeing to assist people who were in the country illegally and who were being detained.


A federal judge has ordered the sworn statements that led to Metts’ indictment be sealed. Court documents show agents have removed materials including computers, appointment books and written notes from the sheriff’s office.


Gov. Nikki Haley has suspended Metts from office, and Lewis McCarty is serving as acting sheriff.


South Carolina's longest-serving sheriff latest in string to be charged, investigated