editor@latinonewspaper.net | 28-Jan-2022 12:56:18 am


James Metts Sherriff del Condado de Lexington es acusado de aceptar sobornos para ayudar indocumentados

COLUMBIA, SC. – El fiscal federal Bill Nettles anuincio que James R. Metts (68), de Lexington, SC fue acusado por un jurado federal de 10 cargos criminales.
De acuerdo con la acusación Metts acepto pagos de amigos a cambio de usar su posición, poder e influencia como Sheriff para intervenir con la identificación y procesamiento de indocumentados detenidos en el Centro de Detención del Condado.
El gran jurado formuló acusaciones contra Danny Frazier, asambleísta de Lexington (46) Jason Amodio (46) exjefe de policía de Congaree, y Gregorio Leon dueño de varios restaurantes San José (47). Amodio y León fueron acusados de sobornar a Metts.
La Gob. Nikki Haley suspendió a Metts el martes y designó a Lewis McCarty, para reemplazar a Metts quien se defiende de los cargos.
El Fiscal Federal Nettles dijo, “La corrupción no será tolerada a ningún nivel. Estas acusaciones son el resultado de un nuevo equipo en la Oficina del Fiscal Federal cuyo enfoque es la cooperación entre agencias federales y estatales para combatir la corrupción y asegurar la confianza pública de los viven en esta comunidad.”
Metts fue acusado de Conspiración para violar la ley federal y de interferir con funciones del gobierno, usar facilidades del gobierno para facilitar el soborno y uso de giros inter estatales para defraudar los ciudadanos de Lexington, y conspirar para albergar inmigrantes indocumentados.
Los cargos contra Metts llevan hasta 20 años de cárcel y $250 mil en multas que conjuntamente sobrepasan el millón de dólares. Leon, está acusado de sobornar oficiales un delito que lleva hasta 5 años de carcel y multa de $3 mil.
COLUMBIA, SC — A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted longtime Lexington County Sheriff James Metts on charges of accepting bribes and abuse of his position as sheriff.
Gov. Nikki Haley suspended Metts from office late Tuesday afternoon and appointed a replacement, Lewis McCarty, who retired from the sheriff’s department as Metts’ second-in-command. Metts is fighting the charges.
The 10-count indictment alleges 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 immigrants detained at the county jail, according to federal prosecutors.
Three other people were charged by the State Grand Jury. They are former Lexington town councilman Danny Frazier, 46, ex-South Congaree police chief Jason Amodio, 45, and Greg Leon, the 47-year-old owner of some San Jose Mexican restaurants. Frazier and Leon are accused of bribing the sheriff.
Metts faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the most severe charge, wire fraud.
Other federal charges against Metts of conspiracy to harbor people who were in the country illegally, conspiracy to violate federal law and interfering with government functions carry penalties of ranging from five to 10 years plus fines of up to $250,000.
Frazier is charged under state law with an ethics violation involving seeking to influence a public official. Frazier faces up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.
Amodio, 45, is charged with common law misconduct in office, a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The state indictment accuses him of accepting payment for seized illegal gaming machines.
Leon, is accused of giving bribes to officers, a felony that carries up to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $3,000.
Metts, the longest-serving among South Carolina’s current sheriffs, held the post since December 1972. He had become a marquee name in South Carolina law enforcement circles and had been a political powerhouse in Lexington County for decades.
On more than one occasion, Metts sought to become the chief of the State Law Enforcement Division, South Carolina’s leading police agency. SLED worked with federal investigators on the case that resulted in Tuesday’s charges.
Metts is the state’s longest-serving sitting sheriff, in office for almost 42 years.
Metts’ job as sheriff gives him control of the Lexington County jail, and he has an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to house illegal immigrants. Anyone arrested in the Midlands for being in the country illegally is taken to the the county jail.
In August 2010, Metts signed the ICE agreement that allowed specialized officers at the jail to enforce federal immigration laws. Those who were found to be undocumented were reported to ICE for deportation.
Early in the program, advocates for immigrants in the Midlands said they had heard complaints about the new program but had not been able to verify any of the accusations that Metts’s deputies were targeting immigrants for minor arrests.
At the time the program started, Metts blamed the jail’s overcrowding, in part, on illegal immigrants. At any give time, 10 percent of the jail’s roughly 800 inmates were immigrants, he said then.
Under the agreement with ICE, two jail officers were trained to investigate whether immigrants were legally in the United States.
The Lexington County Detention Center is one of three jails in the state that has an agreement with the federal immigration agency. The others are in York and Charleston counties.
When he became Lexington’s sheriff at age 26, Metts was then the nation’s youngest sheriff. By 1979 he had earned a Ph.D in education from the University of South Carolina, making him one of a few sheriff in the nation to hold a doctoral degree.
During his tenure, he took over an agency whose deputies wore jeans and kept notes on envelopes and converted the department into a well-regarded modern law enforcement operation.
His staff of 500 relies on training manuals, computers and crime analysis as well as old-fashioned shoe-leather investigation and attention to neighborhood problems.
But Metts’ long tenure has not been without controversy.
He was criticized at one point for becoming a for-hire law enforcement expert and being a consultant to insurance companies while serving as sheriff.
He has clashed frequently with Lexington County Council about his constant push for more money to expand the department.
The former sheriff also has dealt with medical issues that occasionally sidelined him. In 1995, his doctors advised him to find a way to relieve job stress after he had heart pains. Metts built a goldfish pond at his home and began exercising. He has battled with his weight for years, but in recent years has slimmed down.
Perhaps Metts’ most notorious criminal case involved the 1985 kidnapping and murder of teenager Shari Smith and the investigation and manhunt for her killer, Larry Gene Bell.
In 1991, actor William Devane played Metts in a made-for-TV movie about the case.
Por Wilfredo León, Director

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