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

68-year-old faces charges of taking bribes, wire fraud

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 10:10 PM
Last updated Wednesday, June 18, 2014 5:21 AM
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff has been indicted on bribery charges, according to federal prosecutors, making him the eighth sheriff in the state to face criminal charges or investigations in the past four years.



U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said Tuesday that the 68-year-old Lexington County Sheriff James Metts faces 10 charges of taking bribes. He is also charged with wire fraud and conspiracy.

Court documents say Metts 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. The indictment detailed several phone calls between Metts and a former Lexington Town councilman, who was acting as a go-between for the owner of several Mexican restaurants. Metts accepted a cash in exchange for keeping some of the restaurants’ employees from ending up in federal databases of immigrants who weren’t supposed to be in the U.S.

In office since 1972, the Republican has received a number of awards, including the Order of the Palmetto and the Order of the Silver Crescent, and is up for re-election in 2016. It wasn’t immediately known whether he was in custody.

His lawyer, Sherri Lydon, issued a statement on his behalf. “Sheriff Metts has dedicated his life to law enforcement and serving the citizens of Lexington County. He denies the allegations and looks forward to his day in court,” she wrote.

Gov. Nikki Haley suspended Metts about an hour after the indictments were released and appointed Lewis McCarty, who retired in 1999 after nearly 30 years with the Lexington Department, as the acting sheriff.

Metts began his law enforcement career as a dispatcher with the West Columbia Police Department in 1967. In 1972, at the age of 25, Metts became the youngest sheriff ever elected in the nation, according to his online biography, and has served ever since in the heavily Republican county outside Columbia.

He was named South Carolina’s sheriff of the year in 1982.

In 1998, he pondered a GOP primary challenge to then-Gov. David Beasley – whom he had helped get elected four years earlier – and even mulled running as an independent before ultimately supporting the incumbent.

The sheriff’s ties to video gambling date to that campaign, during which he advocated a statewide referendum on the issue and received contributions from video gambling interests. Metts said he’d return the contributions after disbanding his campaign, and state lawmakers ultimately banned video gambling in 2000.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office wasn’t available for additional comment Tuesday.

Metts is the eighth South Carolina sheriff to be charged or investigated in about four years and at least the fourth accused of taking kickbacks.

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shamrock
535
Points
shamrock 06/18/14 - 12:26 am
6
0
In Four Years??

EIGHT Sheriffs in FOUR years .... and FOURTH accused of taking kickbacks? WOW!! What can you say?

JRC2024
9283
Points
JRC2024 06/18/14 - 12:36 am
2
0
May be true and may not be.

May be true and may not be.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 06/18/14 - 12:48 am
5
0
This is probably just

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg folks. There's no way the Feds can catch them all.

itsanotherday1
45308
Points
itsanotherday1 06/18/14 - 12:55 am
6
0
"There's no way the Feds can

"There's no way the Feds can catch them all." No, but I hope they catch as many as they can.

Riverman1
86834
Points
Riverman1 06/18/14 - 06:03 am
6
0
SC Sheriffs Are Special

Sheriffs in SC are a special breed. I remember where I grew up deputies would drive the ballot boxes to the election commission to be counted. The incumbent sheriff would win elections with 99.9% of the vote. It was like the Soviet Union's "elections."

dwb619
96771
Points
dwb619 06/18/14 - 09:03 am
6
1
deeper

I have been keeping up with this story from two other sources for well over a year.
I think we will be seeing several more indictments of associates of the sheriff, for a host of charges.
It appears Lexington County has had an "Old West" or "Soprano" element for quite some time.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 06/18/14 - 10:47 am
8
0
Man, who can you trust today? Anyone??

This isn't just law enforcement, it's ALL of life!! People that are suppose to lead others with honor and integrity are vanishing!! There doesn't seemt to be anyone who lead with honor!! What can WE TRUST today??

GiantsAllDay
9845
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/18/14 - 12:51 pm
4
2
Copblock.org Subscribe to

Copblock.org
Subscribe to their weekly newsletter; they will keep you posted on the latest regarding crooked cops in this country.

GiantsAllDay
9845
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/18/14 - 12:53 pm
4
5
South Carolina: too small to

South Carolina: too small to be a country; too large to be an insane asylum.

ELLIOTTMESS55
893
Points
ELLIOTTMESS55 06/18/14 - 03:32 pm
4
1
no, they can't catch them
Unpublished

no, they can't catch them all, as this happens in all states not just S.C.i will say that this federal prosecutor we have (bill nettles) is no joke! he is the real deal,and putting criminals away as I type this.look for metts to resign anyday now.

GiantsAllDay
9845
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/18/14 - 04:25 pm
4
3
The sad thing is even if he

The sad thing is even if he is convicted or resigns, he will still have a cushy govt pension for the rest of his life. I bet the taxpayers of Lexington county won't even care.

burninater
9680
Points
burninater 06/18/14 - 04:44 pm
6
1
"This isn't just law

"This isn't just law enforcement, it's ALL of life!! People that are suppose to lead others with honor and integrity are vanishing!! There doesn't seemt to be anyone who lead with honor!! What can WE TRUST today??"
-------
Folks have abused power since the dawn of time. They're just getting caught more, and we're hearing about it more.

Can you imagine how bad this kind of thing was before pervasive networked commerce and communications? Sheriffs like this used to RUN their towns, and noone outside their local fiefdoms was any the wiser.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 06/18/14 - 04:54 pm
0
0
As my
Unpublished

brother-in-law, a retired Superior Court judge, once told me; "All cops aren't good cops".

itsanotherday1
45308
Points
itsanotherday1 06/18/14 - 05:27 pm
6
0
"Sheriffs like this used to

"Sheriffs like this used to RUN their towns, and noone outside their local fiefdoms was any the wiser."

You betcha they did. I was locked up along with 4 others just for driving through Gibson once. James English was his name, Glascock County sheriff. Five of us teens drove from Sandersville to Gibson to "cruise" their little "dairy barn/queen." We circled the square and Buddy saw a blue light behind him. He pulled over and two big guys in plain clothes rolled out of an unmarked pick-up truck, got us all out, put us in the back of the pickup, and drove us around the corner to the jail. No explanation other than Buddy violated some BS traffic law, and we had no business coming to his town to make trouble. After 30 minutes or so, he sprung the 4 of us to go back and get Buddy's daddy for bail. His dad showed up for court date and the judge told he and Buddy "If I can't believe my sheriff, who can I believe?" An attorney told Mr. Waters he was wee weeing into the wind trying to fight it.
The only thing we were guilty of is being a carload of boys from out of county.

jimmymac
42864
Points
jimmymac 06/18/14 - 11:13 pm
0
0
SC
Unpublished

Sounds like Boss Hog exists in a lot of SC towns.

Newsflash
1925
Points
Newsflash 06/19/14 - 10:53 am
1
2
Sheriff's should be relegated to the history books .

To counter the potential for this type of activity Aiken County Government should research implementing a county wide police force with a chief hired by council . The sheriff would still run the jail and provide courthouse security . It is time to put an end to the political and ceremonial duties of the sheriff and begin providing equal protection for all . The theatrics and special promises made to a few while balancing the burden of taxes on the entire citizenry would come to an immediate halt .

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