A former police chief in Lexington County has pleaded guilty to lying in front of a grand jury, the latest chapter in ongoing corruption trials involving the county’s law enforcement.
Former South Congaree police chief Jason Amodio pleaded guilty to a perjury charge Thursday morning. The plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors would set an agreed-upon sentence of eight months home confinement, plus four years probation. District Judge Joe Anderson accepted the sentence.
“Mr. Amodio went before the federal grand jury, swore on the Bible to tell the truth, and lied; that is a crime,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said in a statement. “This is another joint investigation… to prosecute public corruption on all levels.”
Amodio still faces a misconduct in office charge from South Carolina. As part of the plea agreement reached last June, he will also plead guilty to that count. An official with the state Attorney Generals Office said Thursday they are preparing to advance that case once Judge Anderson sentences Amodio.
The police chief was one of the four individuals indicted the same day as Lexington County Sheriff James Metts in June 2014. Also charged were then-Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier and Midlands restaurant chain owner Gregorio Leon. Ex-Sheriff Metts pleaded guilty late last year to a conspiracy charge after federal prosecutors said he improperly released several detained illegal aliens who worked for Leon. Charges are still pending against Leon and Frazier.
In court filings, prosecutors accused Amodio of lying under oath to a grand jury investigating potential public corruption in October 2012. Amodio was asked about a check he received from an individual identified only as “Person A.” According to court documents, the chief told the grand jury that the check was a loan for a new pickup. But he admitted Thursday that was not the case and the check was in fact a payment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said prosecutors have evidence to show the check was from an attorney. Richardson told the judge Amodio had helped a family hire the attorney for a civil lawsuit stemming from a fatal 2011 wreck. When the attorney received a fee in return for his representation, that attorney then paid Amodio through an intermediary. He did not give any more details and did not take questions from reporters afterwards.
The state’s case against Amodio, which is still pending, accuses him of accepting bribes from Frazier in exchange for turning over illegal gambling devices South Congaree Police had seized.
Amodio resigned as South Congaree police chief in 2013, shortly after State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and FBI agents raided the town’s police office. He said at the time that his resignation was for personal reasons.
Neither Amodio nor his attorney wanted to comment after the hearing.