The bribery trial for South Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff is now scheduled for next year.
A federal judge on Wednesday set a January 20 date for suspended Lexington County Sheriff James Metts’ next court appearance. Federal and state prosecutors accuse Metts of accepting bribes from a local restaurant owner in exchange for releasing several of the man’s employees who were being held on immigration charges.
Metts has repeatedly insisted he’s innocent and did so again after Wednesday’s hearing. “This trial is nothing more than an attempt to discredit me, ” he said in a brief statement to reporters gathered outside the federal courthouse. “And I’m going to prove through our attorneys that we’re innocent, as we’ve always been, and that justice, I believe, will prevail.”
It was the first time Metts has publicly commented on the charges.
“I wish (the trial) could have started in December or sooner, but because of the matters that came forth today it’ll be in January. And we’re prepared to go to trial at any point in time.
Metts had served as sheriff since 1972, but was suspended from office by the governor after his indictment earlier this summer.