Ex-police chief pleads guilty in bribery case linked to S. Carolina's longest-serving sheriff

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — A former South Carolina police chief pleaded guilty Thursday as part of a corruption case involving the state's longest-serving sheriff.

Former South Congaree Chief Jason Amodio pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to a grand jury, local media outlets reported. Amodio also agreed to plead guilty to the charge of misconduct in office in state court at a later time.

He will be sentenced on the federal charges in a few months. A deal calls for eight months of house arrest and four years probation.

The sentence is part of a deal with federal investigators made days after the indictment of former Lexington County Sheriff James Metts. He's awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a federal bribery conspiracy charge.

Prosecutors say Metts took bribes from a restaurant owner in exchange for releasing some of his employees who had been detained for being in the country illegally.

Prosecutors say Amodio took bribes from the Danny Frazier, the same former Lexington town councilman who was a go-between for Metts and the restaurant owner. Authorities say Amodio lied to a grand jury in 2012 regarding a payment of $9,000 he received, claiming then he got the money as a loan to purchase a truck.

Metts was sheriff for 42 years before his June indictment and formally retired as he planned to plead guilty. He was the eighth sheriff in South Carolina to be charged or investigated while in office since 2010.

Of that number, six have pleaded guilty or been convicted, and another died while under investigation. Only two of those sheriffs have been sentenced to prison.

A ninth sheriff, Berkeley County's Wayne DeWitt, resigned Feb. 4 just before he was indicted on charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of a crash and failing to stop for police from a crash in December. Troopers said the sheriff was in a county-owned pickup truck when he rear-ended a car and drove off.

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