Lexington Ring: The Buzz Is Back
This website has written extensively about the “Lexington Ring,” a cabal of corrupt cops and crooked elected officials who have allegedly been running a video poker ring based out of Lexington County, S.C. for several years.
For those of you unfamiliar with state law, video poker is illegal in South Carolina – part of the Palmetto State’s efforts to maintain an anti-competitive monopoly on all forms of gambling. We oppose that monopoly, and support expanded private sector gaming. We do not, however, support powerful politicians and police officers profiting off of illegal gambling at they same time they are cracking down on it against others.
This case has ebbed and flowed for nearly a year now, with many wondering whether the ring and its powerful leaders would ever be brought to justice. Indictments in the case were said to be “imminent” five months ago, but nothing materialized. Meanwhile three months ago a statewide grand jury was said to have received a report from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) regarding the ring.
Once again, though, nothing happened.
Now the buzz is officially back …
“(Sixteen) indictments true billed,” one source close to the investigation tells FITS. “Should be forthcoming this week (coming up).”
The source specifically mentioned Lexington County (S.C.) Sheriff Jimmy Metts and the “whole crew” as being among the list of those to be indicted – although there was no recapitulation of the names associated with this “whole crew.”
This isn’t the only indictment-related buzz we’ve heard about Metts this week. A pair of state lawmakers told FITS this week the sheriff informed them recently that the “FBI was coming to get him next week.”
A third lawmaker tells FITS that a local television reporter – presumably Jody Barr of WIS TV 10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) – is telling legislators that indictments are coming next week, citing a source in the S.C. Attorney General’s office.
That’s a lot of buzz … but as we’ve seen several times before in this ongoing saga, buzz has routinely given way to, well … nothing. In fact we met several weeks ago with a friend of several ring members who mocked the incessant speculation regarding this investigation – a source who assured us no indictments would be forthcoming in the case.
State and federal agents have been probing underground gambling in Lexington County, S.C. for – meticulously following the money in an effort to determine which public officials have aided and abetted (and perhaps even participated in) this criminal activity. Within the last few months they’ve reportedly tightened the noose on the “ring,” a cabal of corrupt politicians and crooked cops said to be running a video poker racket.
The ring burst into the headlines last summer when a Lexington, S.C. councilman named Danny Frazier was surreptitiously recorded detailing the inner workings of its operation to a prospective client. These recordings were provided to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in the early spring of 2012 by a former member of the ring – a ex-magistrate who claims he once issued favorable rulings from the bench on behalf of the underground video poker industry.
Frazier originally denied making the statements contained in the recordings, but later changed his tune and said he fabricated them in an effort to make himself appear influential.
Among the names Frazier dropped on the tapes? In addition to Metts, he listed Columbia, S.C. mayor Steve Benjamin, former S.C. Senator Jakie Knotts (RINO-Lexington) and S.C. Senator Ronnie Cromer (RINO-Newberry) as being participants in the ring’s activities.
Another name mentioned on the tapes? Jason Amodio – the police chief of South Congaree, S.C., a small town whose government offices were recently raided by state and federal agents. News of this raid – and its connection to the ring – was exclusively reported by this website. According to our sources, Amodio has played a key role in the evolution of this case in recent weeks – even though town officials in South Congaree claim he is being investigated for an adulterous affair with a fellow town employee, not anything related to the ring.
We find that excuse difficult to accept …
More likely? That Amodio is the latest local official to cooperate with the investigation …
So … will there be indictments this case next week? Or is this the latest example of the South Carolina political rumor mill running amok again? We attempted to contact S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson about the case, but never heard back from him. That’s not surprising, though, as no sitting Attorney General would ever confirm details of a case that’s pending before a statewide grand jury.
Guess we’ll find out soon enough … but it does appear as though the investigation of the ring is reaching some sort of climax.