Fmr. S. Congaree police chief Amodio gets deal for cooperating with gov't

Fmr. S. Congaree police chief Amodio gets deal for cooperating with gov't

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former South Congaree Police chief Jason Amodio appears headed for a deal for cooperating with prosecutors in connection with the ongoing probe into corruption in Lexington County.

According to federal court documents made public on Tuesday, Amodio agreed to plead guilty back in June to making false statements to a grand jury.

Amodio, who resigned from office a year earlier after a raid on South Congaree Town Hall, was originally accused of accepting payment in return for seized gaming machines while he was police chief.

Days after the federal indictment, court documents show Amodio signed the plea agreement. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles both signed off on the agreement.

The agreement states Amodio "agrees to be fully truthful and forthright with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies by providing full, complete and truthful information about all criminal activities about which he has knowledge."

The deal, if approved by a judge, would mean Amodio would avoid prison time and be sentenced to four years probation, with eight months of the term to be served in home confinement with electronic monitoring.

He faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 if convicted.

Amodio also agreed to plead guilty to common-law misconduct in office, a state charge in connection with Ex-Lexington County Sheriff James Metts' high-profile corruption case. Former Lexington councilman Danny Frazier and restaurateur Gregorio Leon are accused of bribing Metts.

The state charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Any punishment for that crime would be served concurrently with his federal sentence.

Nettles filed a motion on Tuesday asking the court to depart from applicable sentencing guidelines in the federal case.

"Jason Amodio cooperated throughout the pendency of his case and is still cooperating," Nettles stated. "The Government believes that the defendant's assistance was substantial and will provide additional information at the time of sentencing."

Prosecutors allege Amodio lied to a grand jury in October 2012 while testifying as a witness in the ongoing federal investigation into illegal gambling, extortion, mail and wire fraud in Lexington County.

During grand jury questioning regarding whether or not he had taken bribes or kickbacks, Amodio was asked about his relationship with somebody who is only identified as "Person A."

Court documents show Amodio offered the following testimony:

Q: Has he ever borrowed money from you or have you ever borrowed money from him, anything of that nature?
A: I have borrowed money from him before.
Q: You've borrowed money from him.
A: Yes, sir.
Q: When did you borrow money from him?
A: Probably six or eight months ago.
Q: And why did you borrow money from him?
A: I had a truck that was - my truck - and I found another truck, I wanted a diesel. I didn't have the cash, but I had somebody that was going to buy my truck, so I was like in between a couple days, so I had somebody that was going to purchase my truck, I was going to take that money and buy this other truck, but. he wasn't able to buy that truck yet for a couple of days, so he loaned me the money to go get this truck and as soon as I sold mine, I paid him back. And I did it in writing.
Q: So tell me about that. Did you aIl have any - some sort of loan agreement,?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Okay, you did?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Okay. And how much money did he loan you?
A: Nine thousand dollars.
Q: Okay. And - and what date, how quickly did you pay him back?
A: Within a week.
Q: You didn't tell the agents about that either, did you?
A: No, sir.
Q: Why not?
A: Well, again, they didn't ask me about that.
Q: Well, you did know the agents were asking you questions about Person A and how he made his money and whether he was making money perhaps living beyond his means with video poker and you didn't bother to tell them about that either, did you?
A: As far as the loan?
Q: Uh-huh.
A: No, sir, I did not.
Q: Okay. Well, so this check that I have, Grand Jury Exhibit Number 1-.JA 10/16 which is today's date, is that the check that Person A made out to you?
A: Yes, sir, it is.
Q: Okay. Now why is Person B's signature on that check as well as your own?
A: Because she cashed it for me.
Q: So why did she cash a check for you and give you cash?
A: Because I was buying my truck through Craig's List and you can't pay anything but really with cash, so that's what. I did. I paid for it in cash.
Q: How did you know that. Person A had the financial wherewithal to write you a check for $9,000?
A: I - honestly I didn't. I asked him and he said he did, so I know he's - he has a construction business with his brother and they own a lot of hospital buildings up and down 378.
Q: You didn't tell the agents about any of that either, did you?
A: I thought that was common knowledge.
Q: You thought that was common knowledge, and so that's the reason why you didn't tell the agents because you thought t.hat. was common knowledge? Now what day did you pay this back?
A: I don't know exactly. I mean...
Q: You said within a couple of days; right?
A: Within...
Q: So did you write a check out to Person A?
A: No, sir. I - I sold my truck in cash and I gave him the cash back.

Court documents indicate Amodio later admitted that testimony was false.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

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