Lexington County corruption was 'black cloud', many say - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Authorities, lawmakers say 'black cloud' of corruption hung over Lexington Co.


Many state law enforcement officials and state lawmakers have said Lexington County has had a black cloud of corruption allegations over it for at least two years.

That's also the same amount of time this investigation surrounding these allegations has been going on.

From charges of using inmate labor for personal gain to credit fraud and even selling evidence, Sheriff's Association President Jeff Moore has seen it all.

"We have elected sheriffs," Moore said, "and I think, by and large, I've worked for 160. And maybe 10-12 have found themselves in trouble."

South Carolina already gets a "F" rating when it comes to corruption risk, according to "The State Integrity Investigation." However, some leaders in state law enforcement say the system isn't making it easy to be corrupt.

"It's a case of getting too big for your britches," defense attorney Pete Strom said. "Sort of the 'Boss Hog' attitude that 'I've got these inmates and I can use them to do private labor for me,' or 'I've got more power,' statutorily than they actually have constitutionally."

Although suspended Lexington County Sheriff James Metts has denied any connection to video gambling rings in the past, those in the legal community say the scope of this investigation could expand as more information comes forward.

"We've heard about video poker," Strom said. "We've heard about other things being speculated in the community. All of that stuff has been looked into and it may come into play if other people cooperate."

Metts faces more than 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if found guilty.

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