A federal grand jury has handed down a 10-count indictment against Lexington County Sheriff James Metts in connection with a bribery scheme to allegedly aid illegal immigrants.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the indictment alleges that Metts used his power and influence as sheriff to interfere with the proper identification and processing of certain undocumented immigrants detained at the county jail.
Prosecutors say Metts would arrange for preferential treatment when illegal activities occurred by employees of a group of Mexican restaurants owned by Greg Leon.
In return, Leon would allegedly pay off the sheriff and former Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier, who's accused of acting as a middle man in the scheme.
Both Leon and Frazier have been indicted by the State Grand Jury for allegedly bribing the sheriff.
The indictments take aim at South Carolina's longest-serving sheriff. Metts became the youngest person elected to that job at age 25, more than years ago.
And the 68-year-old Republican has received a number of awards, including the Order of the Palmetto and the Order of the Silver Crescent.
An attorney for Metts says he denies the allegations and looks forward to his day in court.
Until that comes, Metts won't be at his sheriff's desk. The governor has suspended him and has appointed his former assistant sheriff as acting sheriff – 72-year-old Lewis McCarty, who had retired.
The indictments are the result of a collaborative investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, South Carolina Attorney General's Office, State Law Enforcement Division, the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The State Grand Jury also indicted 45-year-old former South Congaree Police Chief Jason Amodio on charges of common law misconduct in office. An indictment alleges while he was chief, he accepted payment in return for seized gaming machines.