SC

James Metts Plea Agreement: No Dice!

FINALLY! A JUDGE WITH SOME COJONES … By FITSNEWS || In a stunning setback for both disgraced Lexington County, S.C. Sheriff James Metts – and the U.S. Attorney prosecuting him – a federal judge has rejected the proposed plea deal that would have given him three years of probation for his…

FINALLY! A JUDGE WITH SOME COJONES …

By FITSNEWS || In a stunning setback for both disgraced Lexington County, S.C. Sheriff James Metts – and the U.S. Attorney prosecuting him – a federal judge has rejected the proposed plea deal that would have given him three years of probation for his alleged crimes.

Now Metts is in the unenviable position of having to stand trial on the ten-count indictment filed against him in June – while U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles is in the unenviable position of having to prosecute the man he attempted to hook up with a sweetheart deal.

It’s a mess …

Metts had agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens – for which he would have received three years probation.  Details of the plea – which we previewed here – enraged many in South Carolina who believed the former Sheriff was getting preferential treatment.

U.S. district court judge Terry Wooten didn’t necessarily come out and agree with them – but he did rule that three years of probation was inconsistent with federal sentencing guidelines on the charge to which Metts agreed to plead guilty.

According to Wooten, those guidelines called for a prison sentence of anywhere between 12-16 months.

“The guidelines do not call for a probationary sentence,” Wooten said. “Conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens is a serious charge.”

Indeed … especially for a public official who took government money pledging to crack down on illegal immigration.

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).”

He originally pleaded not guilty to the charges – and vigorously protested his innocence.  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.

For those of you new to this site, members of the “Lexington Ring” have been accused of running an illegal video poker operation based out of Lexington County, S.C.  Among those indicted by Wilson?  Former South Congaree police chief Jason Amodio, who was specifically accused of accepting payment “in return for seized gaming machines.”  FITS was the first media outlet in the state to report on a joint state-federal raid of Amodio’s offices in May 2013 – noting that Amodio was one of the corrupt lawmen mentioned by Frazier in the audio recordings as providing protection for video poker machines run by the “Ring.”

Wilson’s office was not involved in the plea deal involving Metts, sources close to the Attorney General tell FITS.

Obviously, this website supports Wooten’s decision.  Metts was getting a sweetheart deal, and just because he’s sixty-eight years old and has “the diabetes” (as it’s called in South Carolina) that doesn’t mean he should get off with no jail time.

Wooten deserves props for rejecting this deal … whatever the “sentencing guidelines” stated.

More to the point, we’re exceedingly concerned this failed plea deal is indicative of a lack of testicular fortitude (or whatever you want to call it) on the part of Nettles’ office – which is playing a starring role in the ongoing federal-state investigation of corruption at the S.C. State House.  Bottom line?  We don’t need prosecutors looking to cut deals, we need prosecutors looking to throw the book at corrupt politicians.

As for the forthcoming Metts’ trial, stay tuned to FITS for the latest … we’ve got some interesting scoop as it relates to how things might go down.

***

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55 comments

Squishy123 December 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Jimmy better learn the Honkey Pokey.

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jimlewisowb December 17, 2014 at 2:05 pm

In the lowcountry they refer to is as – let’s play Pokey the Honkey

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Flip Coscoe December 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm

12-16 months? Still not a bad deal if you are Metts.

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little Timmy December 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm

That is 12-19 per count…10 counts. Of course he won’t serve 10 counts x 12-19. In my opinion, it would be appropriate 120-190 months!
He is in a pickle. He has already agreed and plead guilty! How will he now plead not guilty?
Hope he gets the ten years and it will send a message.
He still has the illegal gambling hanging.
So long frog face. Take all of your buds with you!

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jimlewisowb December 17, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Damn

Message to all – there is one Federal Judge who doesn’t like Cockroaches

Scurry you little sons of bitches, scurry like hell is your co-pilot

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Rocky December 17, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Man, maybe he should have just agreed to be charged with the gambling thing. Seems the Judge ain’t happy with harboring illegals.

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The Colonel December 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

There is justice after all.

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Manray9 December 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Maybe. No trial or sentence yet.

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The Law December 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Exactly, for all we know this is simply a show to stop the little people from breaking out their pitchforks.

It could be like the DA in the Ferguson GJ, leading the defendant with all the right questions to get all the right answers while the judge instructs to the jury on how to find the defendant innocent.

How do you force a prosecutor sympathetic to law enforcement to put on a good trial? lol…you can’t….attorney’s hide behind the sanctity of “impartiality” and “bar ethics” all the time, with a wink & a nod.

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Taos December 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Serious Lexington County scum there… riding that nice “Dutch Forker” last name to victory, time and time again; meanwhile, playing the traitor role by profiting from the illicit immigration trade that is ruining this nation in general, and this county specifically. Of course, those old white haired Lutherans that put him in office preach regularly against the illegals… but anyway. As a final point though, I’d still like for someone to follow the illegal immigration trade to the big money makers/political donors of the county, such as the well known homebuilder/developer that pretty much owns the Lexington District 5 school board, amongst other political bodies…

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EREY December 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Not just Lexington 5 school board, but also Lexington County Council, Irmo and Chapin as well. They are all beholden to him, his trade group and his scumbag trash removal cronies. They are the real cockroaches in Lexington. Wait, aren’t these the same goons that tried to buy a penny tax in Lexington county for their foolish projects?

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Manray9 December 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Metts is a Republican and, as such, I’m sure he fully supports the strongest enforcement of laws concerning illegal immigrants — no deals, no special privileges, no coddling of criminals. Throw the book at them. Right?

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idcydm December 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Right, just like they did with those Democratic Governors in Illinois. You see, it doesn’t make any difference if you’re and “R” or “D” when it comes to corruption, throw the book at *all* of them.

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Manray9 December 17, 2014 at 5:28 pm

That’s my opinion too. How ’bout the Love Guv next?

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idcydm December 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Is she under indictment, if and when that happens and if she is found guilty, throw away the key.

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Wake UP South Carolina December 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm

Hopefully …. NEXT UP OHALEY!!!

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Beth C. December 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Shouldn’t there be a new prosecutor? Obviously, Nettles isn’t taking the case seriously.

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Manray9 December 17, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Good point.

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Dave Chappelle I'm Rick James December 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Exactly!

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Smirks December 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

You mean Metts may in fact be headed for the big house? It’s a Christmas miracle!

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Dave Chappelle I'm Rick James December 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm

One could only hope! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please!

Let him grab those bars from the other side.

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Other than mortgage fraud cases that revealed to anyone who read about them exactly how the housing bubble came about, has Nettles’ office done much of anything?
It’s good to see a judge stand up to a bad deal. Too bad Thomas Ravenel’s didn’t and gave him slap on the wrist time.

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anonymous December 17, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Nettles has done a good job of protecting Jean Toal, if that counts.

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Pray tell, what does Jean Toal have to do with the federal cases Nettles’ office has been handling?
Do you think she has broken a federal law?

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anonymous December 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Guess you don’t know them very well and don’t read posts on this site often. Jean was tight as a tick with Jakie Knotts and Jahue Moore. Still is, really.

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Are you saying she is a co-conspirator with Jake on the illegals or gambling cases?

You Know Me December 17, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Yeah, how’s thar been working out in the City of Columbia or South Congaree? Of course, when the voters are bat shit stupid as they appear to be in Lexington, Richland, and Newberry counties, among others, you do get corrupt dreck being re-elected over and over, again. At least term limits prevent these jobs-for-life by scumbags like Jimmy.

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aikencounty December 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Here’s my completely uneducated and biased view of the latest development.
The feds have plenty on this crook, and the judge thinks they have plenty on the rest of the crooks.
Ergo, no deals are needed to put the whole lot of them in the slammer.
It’s my dream and I’m sticking to it!

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Baked December 17, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I believe it’s called “the sugars”

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You Know Me December 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm

To underscore the rampant corruption among many of our Sheriffs, an article on another site (WIS?) was telling how a spokesman for the SC Sheriff’s aasociation was speaking out against term limits for Sheriffs in SC. He blathered on about all the “good” things Metts has done for SC Law Enforcement since taking office decades ago. (I guess to include how much bribe money and other graft he has served himself with while “serving” us.

After 12 years or maybe less, they usually become so full of hubris, self importance, and corruption, they are only of use to themselves and no one else. We need term limits for Sheriffs, NOW!

Are you paying attention, Leon?

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Sheriffs need to be hired by county government administrators in a merit based system, not elected.
We do not need more politics in the criminal justice system than is already there.
I feel the same way about solicitors.

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Damn that's dumb December 18, 2014 at 7:46 am

Where a few people in power decide merit. You are wrong. Good or bad, unless the elections were rigged, the Sheriff was elected by the people.

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sbuster1 December 19, 2014 at 8:03 am

It doesn’t matter what kind of system is created, these kinds of people will find a way to corrupt it.

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uh oh December 17, 2014 at 6:15 pm

What I don’t understand is why after 2 years of investigating this by the feds did the prosecutor agree to a plea deal? I have always heard that if the fed brings up charges they pretty much have a slam dunk. Why waste tax payer’s money like that?

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 7:10 pm

How is taxpayer money being wasted with a plea deal?
If a prosecutor can get someone to cop a plea, that frees up a lot of court time, which would seem to mean money and court time is saved for other cases not so easily resolved.

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uh oh December 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Uh all the time like 2 years they spent investigating JM.

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ELCID December 17, 2014 at 6:29 pm

All they got is: Mett’s might have harbored Mexican illegals.
OK, if that’s a crime. Then the Federal Government should charge every single law enforcement agency in America: too. As, the FEDs have been actively doing the exact same thing. In fact, even President Obama just said not to send them back.
Like it or not: Metts is probably not guilty of anything at all.
Unless, they can positively prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he took bribes to do it. And, that is far from proven. Which explains the plea deal. The Prosecutor knows he’s likely to lose the case.

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You Know Me December 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Which of Jimmy’s associates are you? Apparently Jimmy and his attorney thougjt the case the Feds have was strong enough that they were eager to accept a plea deal. I hope he pays dearly for the decades of evil he has done and for tarnishing his badge of office for the sake of personal gain and greed.

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Squishy123 December 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm

If the Feds know what a couple people I know who ran with the Lexington Mafia know, it’ll be an open and shut case. Through reliable sources I’ve been told there’s evidence that goes back decades for some of the charges.

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ELCID December 18, 2014 at 9:08 am

Think about it from the other side.
Why would a prosecutor give such an easy sentence.
When Metts should be going to jail.
Answer: his case is very weak.

Metts probably took the deal because it was a give away for him.
He gets no time, no money, and freedom.
He is going to retire anyway.
So, he walks.

Otherwise, he risks jail, and his only gain is his reputation, which is already soiled, and his old job back if he wants to run for it again, which he probably doesn’t want to do anyway.

Now do you see why??

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Squishy123 December 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

You do understand how justice works in SC don’t you? If you’re part of the good ol’ boy network you get 3 years probation regardless of what crime you’re pleading guilty to.

Whether the case is weak or not, I guess we’ll find out in court. Unless Jimmy decides to plead guilty to all charges.

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Wasshup December 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Some is wrong … Although case law tells us that a sitting judge does not have to accept a plea deal, it is very rare for one NOT to when it has been worked out between the prosecutor and defendant. Is Nettle’s under watch from his superiors at the DOJ? Something is obviously very much so WRONG here. Yes sire, this is very odd, in deed.

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nitrat December 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

It would be nice to know that the DC folks are finally starting to wonder why Nettles has been doing nothing with the SC political corruption crap that has been coming down since the side show of Nikki’s everybody-else-is-doing-it defense at her ethics committee love fest.
Why he didn’t jump in with both feet then is incomprehensible.

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Carcoal December 17, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Nettles agreeing to a plea deal to 3 years probation when sentencing guild lines are clear that there is mandatory time behind bars???? WTF is wrong here, people. Is Nettles corrupt too? Sure seems like it. Nettles knows the statutes. Nettles knows what they say. But he tries to pull a dirty trick off with a federal judge???? WOW!!!!!! Nettles has been exposed!!!!!!!!

“guidelines called for a prison sentence of anywhere between 12-16 months”

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Bill December 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Are you calling me corrupt? Wait. Let me call Aunt Jean (Toal) and ask her if she can do something to you for saying that.

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sbuster1 December 19, 2014 at 8:05 am

Is it possible Nettles is a beneficiary of some of the loot Metts is accused of taking?

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S.C. District Court Bar Member December 17, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Here is my best guess.

Metts now knows that if he is found guilty he will get time within the advisory guideline range. That would probably be something like up to 5 years if he goes to trial and is convicted on multiple counts.

He can instead choose to plead guilty “straight up” and get at least a 2 or 3 point reduction in sentencing points to keep him in the 12-16 month range quoted by the judge.

My guess is that he doesn’t go to trial but instead takes that option. Judge gives him one year “and a day”.

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Scooter December 18, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Pitiful. We put a young man with a roach, in his possession, away for longer than that.

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9" December 17, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I had an….uhhh…. unpleasant encounter with Jimmy,years ago,but now I’m gloating,and downright smug.Even so,his crimes pale in comparison to that guy in Richland county.Can karma strike twice? I sure hope so.

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Do tell December 18, 2014 at 7:50 am

Were you pole smoking down at the boat ramp again?

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9'' December 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Close

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Don't be fooled December 18, 2014 at 7:42 am

The deal that has been struck includes this red herring. Everyone is celebrating but what will most likely happen (remember Lugwig and the Masserati murder charge) is that they will put up a weak case, i.e. sandbag, and jury will find Metts not guilty and he goes away clean. Even better than probation and no cage time.

In SC vs. Ludwig everyone in their right mind knew Arial could not prove murder but manslaughter was a slam dunk. Verdict was non guilty.

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Guido Sarducci December 19, 2014 at 10:46 am

absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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Soft Sigh from Hell December 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm Reply
You Know My Name December 30, 2014 at 10:01 am

Just say “NO” to Jim Crawford. He is buddies with severely ethically challenged former CPD Chief and Lott Family member, Ruben Santiago. Word on the street has it that Crawford has promised Santiago a position of prominence in his department if he is elected as Sheriff. Given the shit LexCo has been through with Jimmy for the last few decades, do we really need this?

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