THE LATEST ON THE ONGOING INVESTIGATION
It’s been nearly a week since we published our last update on the “Lexington Ring” – an assemblage of corrupt politicians and crooked cops who stand accused of running an illegal video poker operation based in Lexington County, S.C. In fact our most recent report on the ring – which explored the cozy relationship its leaders allegedly have with the S.C. Highway Patrol – represents the last piece any media outlet has filed on the subject.
So … what’s the deal? Is this scandal – like every other scandal in this corrupt state – on the verge of “fading to black?” Or are people actually going to be arrested, prosecuted and held accountable for their actions? More importantly, what is video poker’s long-term future in this state? Will we continue to permit our state to have a monopoly on gambling while select leaders engage in this sort of shady, off-the-books activity? Or are we going to level the playing field by legalizing expanded private sector gaming options?
But first … why the week-long silence on the subject? Did someone “get to us?” After all, the outlet which first reported on the ring – The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times – hasn’t made so much as a peep since filing its initial story.
No … no one got to us. In fact our tip line has been overflowing with new information, but at this point people still fear retribution from the ring … which has made it more difficult than usual to corroborate the information we’ve been receiving.
Anyway, here are a few updates on the “ring.” Hopefully we will have much more as we are able to independently verify the information we are receiving.
AT LEAST ONE HEAD HAS ROLLED …
We do know that Cynthia Frazier – wife of embattled Lexington, S.C. town councilman Danny Frazier – was fired from her job with the Cayce, S.C. public safety department at some point within the last week. Why? According to our sources, Frazier lost her job because of her appearance on the explosive audio tapes that were surreptitiously recorded by an unknown individual and provided to law enforcement and the mainstream media by a former member of the ring.
In these recordings, Frazier outlines the mechanics of the illegal operation and talks about having local law enforcement on “lockdown.” He also asserts the involvement of several local politicians – including Columbia, S.C. Mayor Steve Benjamin and State Senators Jakie Knotts (RINO-Lexington) and Ronnie Cromer (RINO-Newberry).
TAPE UPDATE …
Speaking of those tapes, FITS has now been able to confirm that the full three hours of audio was provided to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in March of this year – six months before The Free Times ran its story.
According to sources close to the agency, SLED has been working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice ever since then in an effort to bring down the ring – and that the media exposure of the last month has severely impeded those efforts. The alternative theory? That SLED deliberately sat on the tapes because the agency is somehow complicit in the ongoing activities of the ring.
So … which is it?
“The proof will be in the pudding,” a top SLED official recently told FITS when pressed as to whether the agency was making any progress in bringing members of the ring to justice.
HIGHWAY PATROL UPDATE …
According to our sources, the special favors doled out by the Highway Patrol to ring members (running errands, providing protection, transporting mistresses, etc.) stem from an agreement brokered by Danny Frazier that allows the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) to use Lexington, S.C. municipal offices as its regional headquarters.
In fact both the Town of Lexington and the Highway Patrol’s “Post C” headquarters share the same physical address: 111 Maiden Lane in downtown Lexington.
What rate (if any) does SCDPS pay for the use of these town facilities? It’s not clear … and spokesmen for both government agencies were not immediately able to provide us with that information.
WHERE’S THE SHERIFF?
Lexington County Sheriff James Metts – who along with Frazier and Knotts is said to have the most potential exposure as it relates to the ring’s alleged activities – has been making himself scarce at the office in recent days, sources at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) tell us. In fact there’s a report that Metts may be contemplating taking a “medical leave” as a result of all the recent drama.
No word yet on when that may happen – or whether Metts will continue to draw a salary during his “leave.”
We do know that in addition to the ongoing Justice Department/ SLED probe, Metts is also reportedly facing an investigation over alleged campaign finance irregularities. FITS is currently preparing a report on those irregularities – as well as a report on one of Metts’ ex-mistresses who is said to be cooperating with the ongoing criminal probe.