Three men who were linked to a corruption case that brought down longtime Lexington County Sheriff James Metts were sentenced for their roles in the interlocking schemes Thursday.
All three avoided jail time after prosecutors said their cooperation helped send Metts to prison after more than 40 years as sheriff in the county just west of Columbia.
Former Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier, ex-South Congaree police chief Jason Amodio, and San Jose’s restaurant owner Gregorio Leon pleaded guilty in an Orangeburg courtroom on Thursday. State Circuit Judge R. Lawton McIntosh gave all three suspended sentences that hinged on their completing community service requirements and paying fines.
Frazier admitted accepting payments from Leon on several different occasions after employees at a Mexican restaurant chain that Leon owns were detained on illegal immigration charges. Prosecutors said Frazier would then ask Sheriff Metts to release the individuals and keep their detentions secret from federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials. Frazier was given five years probation, a $10,000 fine and 400 hours of community service, while Leon received five years probation and 200 hours community service.
Prosecutors said Frazier also bribed Amodio so he could get video gambling machines that the police chief’s department had seized. Investigators said the two also created a fraudulent receipt showing the machines had been destroyed. Amodio received four years probation and eight months of house arrest to be served simultaneously with a previous federal sentence in July for lying to investigators in a separate case.
Metts was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison back in April. He did not appeal and began serving that sentence in June.