Suspended Lexington County sheriff James Metts is arguing in court filings that federal corruption allegations against him should be tossed out.
Metts is accused of taking bribes from the owner of the Midlands-based San Jose restaurants in exchange for releasing some San Jose employees who had been detained for being in the country illegally. The Associated Press reports Metts’ attorneys say the worst the sheriff is guilty of is not reporting the releases to the Feds. Both sides will be in court next week.
Earlier this month, Metts’ lawyers filed papers saying the worst their client did was break a reporting contract with the Department of Homeland Security over a special immigration detention center the county was operating. Prosecutors say Metts conspired to set up the bribery arrangement and should be tried on all 10 counts against him.\
Gov. Nikki Haley suspended Metts from his position in June after his indictments. Federal prosecutors accuse South Carolina’s longest-serving sheriff of bribery and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. The indictments claim that the restaurant owner Gregorio Leon would contact a “business liaison” with the Sheriff’s Department, to ask for help with employees who had been detained on immigration violations. The liaison would then arrange for Metts to receive cash in exchange for his help, according to the indictments. Leon also faces bribery counts.
Metts entered a “not guilty” plea and has requested a jury trial.