Lexington County Sheriff James Metts Indicted in Connection with Bribery Scheme to Aid Illegal Aliens
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that James R. Metts (68), of Lexington, South Carolina, was charged by a federal grand jury in a 10-count indictment. According to allegations in the indictment, Metts accepted bribes from friends in return for using his position, power, and influence as sheriff to interfere with the proper identification and processing of certain illegal aliens detained at the Lexington County Detention Center. Two others, Danny Frazier (46) and Greg Leon (47), both of Lexington, South Carolina, have been charged by the state grand jury with bribing Metts.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles was joined in making the announcement by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Special Agent in Charge David A. Thomas of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kenneth R. Burkhart of Homeland Security Investigations, and Chief Mark Keel of the State Law Enforcement Division.
“Public corruption at any level will not be tolerated,” said United States Attorney Bill Nettles. “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.”
Metts was charged with conspiracy to violate federal law and interfere with government function (18 U.S.C. §371); use of interstate facility to facilitate bribery, in violation of South Carolina Code Sections 8-13-705 and 16-9-220 (18 U.S.C. §1952); use of interstate wire to defraud the citizens of Lexington County of their right to honest services (18 U.S.C. §1343, 1346); and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens (8 U.S.C. §1324).
The charge of conspiracy to violate federal law and interfere with government function carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine; each charge of use of interstate facility to facilitate bribery carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine; each charge of use of interstate wire to defraud the citizens of Lexington County of their right to honest services carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine; and the charge of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens carries a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. Additionally, these charges include a maximum term of supervised release following imprisonment of three years.
This multi-agency investigation included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and is assigned to Assistant United States Attorneys Nancy Wicker, Julius N. Richardson, and James H. May for prosecution.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this indictment are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.