IS ANYTHING GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE “LEXINGTON RING?”
Last month the South Carolina political world was shocked by the saga of the “Lexington Ring,” an alleged cabal of crooked cops and corrupt politicians linked to the operation of an illegal video poker business.
Originally exposed by The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times – which immediately (and mysteriously) stopped reporting on the story – the saga of the ring was all the rage for a few weeks, generating extensive (and incriminating) reporting from this website as well as Midlands, S.C. television station WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.).
At the heart of the scandal? A Lexington, S.C. town councilman (and part-time Lexington County Sheriff’s Department “employee”) named Danny Frazier, who was surreptitiously recorded on three hours of audio tapes. On these recordings, Frazier and his wife describe the internal operation of the “ring” as well as the politicians and cops who provide it with cover.
Frazier originally denied making these statements, but later changed his tune and said he fabricated them in an effort to make himself appear influential. Even more incriminating than the Frazier tape? The names he dropped … including Lexington County Sheriff James Metts, Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin and State Senators Jakie Knotts and Ronnie Cromer.
According to our sources, a former member of the ring – ex-Lexington County magistrate judge Jay Lucas – provided the Frazier recordings to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as early as March of this year.
Yeah … it wasn’t until August 3 that The Free Times ran its story.
Anybody wanna wager to guess what happened in the intervening months? Well we know for a fact that as recently as July, SLED was still giving local law enforcement leaders “heads up” phone calls whenever it was coming into its territory to search for illegal video poker machines. Wonder what happened when those phone calls were received over at the Lexington County Sheriff’s office?
Anyway … the question isn’t where we’ve been with this scandal (everybody can follow that path), it’s where we’re going … if anywhere.
We keep hearing that law enforcement (i.e. SLED and the U.S. Department of Justice) are aggressively investigating the ring … along with S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson … and that something big is “coming.”
Needless to say we’re not holding our breath …
Corruption in this state “is what it is,” which is to say that it is tolerated … and then forgotten. Will that be the fate of the ring?
This website has been consistent in supporting the expansion of gaming in South Carolina as well as opposing the state-run gambling monopoly (a.k.a. the so-called “education” lottery). We believe private businesses should have the right to offer gambling to their customers – and that private citizens should have the right to gamble.
In fact the saga of the ring has only reinforced this belief …
Having said that, video poker is currently illegal … and those who are charged with making and enforcing the laws shouldn’t be carving out a piece of the action for themselves while cracking down on others.
For this reason, those who ran, profited from and provided protection for the “Lexington Ring” must be brought to justice. If not, it will only further cement our state’s reputation as a lawless (yet increasingly expensive) banana republic run by redneck hooligans.