Police chief, town administrator on leave after FBI raid

South Congaree Police Chief Jason Amodio
South Congaree Police Chief Jason Amodio
South Congaree Town Hall (Source: Jennifer Emert)
South Congaree Town Hall (Source: Jennifer Emert)

SOUTH CONGAREE, SC (WIS) - South Congaree's police chief and town administrator are on administrative leave and town records are in the hands of state and federal investigators after a raid on town hall Wednesday.

Mayor Jerry McCormick told WIS he made the temporary decision to place them on temporary administrative leave, and the council agreed to the decision at a meeting Thursday night. The town council met in executive session for about 45 minutes before announcing the results.

At the meeting, McCormick said he explained what he knew about the raid to council members.
He assured council members tonight the town is in the clear, and they are fully cooperating with authorities.

Some town council members say they were not informed about Wednesday's raid until Thursday. Council members are expected to be briefed by investigators sometime next week.

Agents with SLED and the FBI paid a visit to town hall Wednesday morning to serve a search warrant and search the premises.

McCormick says the raid had nothing to do with the town's finances or operations. The raid was focused on individuals, the mayor said.

As a result, Police Chief Jason Amodio and Town Administrator Melisha Shumpert have been placed on administrative leave, McCormick said.

"As a town just to be fair to both individuals and the town itself, our police chief and our town administrator [are] on paid administrative leave at this point until the dust settles and we can determine as a council what's going on," said McCormick.

McCormick said authorities seized as many as a dozen items, but wasn't at liberty to go into specifics. Sources tell WIS authorities seized town records in the operation.

The mayor said he was surprised to get the call, but promised to cooperate with the investigation. "I told them we were open to them, we were glad to have them come in, we would help them in any way possible," said McCormick. "We're working with the agencies and they have promised to be back in touch to give us more information."

The town's police force totals eight officers, counting Chief Amodio. Lt. Josh Shumpert, who is not related to Melisha Shumpert, says losing an officer is tough, but the department is doing the best it can to serve the town's 2,300 citizens.

"We're under normal operating procedures," said Shumpert. "The town's being run, we're answering 911 calls, anything that comes out for the citizens, we're here for them and we're ready to run as normal."

Sources say the raid was part of a larger investigation into video gambling in the Midlands.

At the same time the search warrant was being served in South Congaree, federal and state officials were also searching the home of L.W. Flynn, owner and operator of Magic Minutes, the sweepstakes machine company that became the center of the video poker debate in the Palmetto State last year.

Flynn's machines were the subject of numerous WIS investigations across South Carolina.

Flynn founded the company with his wife, Kathy. Flynn is a former 5th Solicitor's Circuit investigator under former solicitor Barney Giese, and Mrs. Flynn is a former Richland County K-9 officer under Sheriff Leon Lott. He was also a candidate for sheriff in Kershaw County.

In March, the state legislature passed legislation meant to clear up confusion about sweepstakes machines and their classification under the state's video gambling statutes.

McCormick told WIS he made the temporary decision to place them on temporary administrative leave, and the council agreed to the decision at the meeting Thursday night.   

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.