FORMER LEXINGTON COUNTY SHERIFF AVOIDS JAIL TIME ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CHARGES
By FITSNEWS || As we predicted, former Lexington County (S.C.) Sheriff James Metts has reached a plea deal with the federal government that will enable him to avoid jail time on the first round of charges filed against him … assuming a judge signs off on the deal.
According to the agreement he reached with prosecutors, Metts will receive three years probation for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.
(Wait … harboring illegals … is that still a crime?)
Metts had been facing up to ten years in prison after being slapped with a ten-count federal indictment. He becomes the third prominent public figure to avoid jail time for public corruption charges in recent years – following former S.C. Lt. Gov. Ken Ard and former S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell.
The longest-serving Sheriff in the Palmetto State, Metts was indicted in June by federal authorities for accepting bribes in exchange 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.”
Metts originally pleaded not guilty to the charges – and vigorously protested his innocence.
Even after his deal became common knowledge, those close to the veteran lawman refused to believe he was actually pleading guilty.
“I won’t believe it until I hear him say it,” one of Metts’ confidantes told FITS.
Four other individuals have been indicted by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson for their roles in the “Lexington Ring,” a cabal of crooked cops and corrupt politicians that was relentlessly exposed in 2012-13 by this website.
Meanwhile five of Metts’ subordinates were fired from their posts in the aftermath of the indictment.
Speaking of those subordinates, sources tell FITS the federal government may not be done with its investigation of Metts’ office. Specifically, we’re told a case has been built around the provision of illegal immigrant labor at a local “mega-farm,” rumored to be Rawl Farms of Lexington, S.C.
In fact evidence related to that case is reportedly what provided the government with the leverage it needed to coax a guilty plea out of the stubborn Sheriff.
“They were using Rawl Farms to force Metts to plead and leave office,” a source familiar with the federal investigation tells FITS.
Metts, 68, reportedly used his health issues (he has diabetes as well as a heart condition) to help make the case for probation in lieu of jail time.
JAMES METTS PLEA AGREEMENT (.pdf)