- Associated Press - Saturday, December 20, 2014

LEXINGTON, S.C. (AP) - The Lexington County Council is plans to discuss removing the name of indicted former Sheriff James Metts from the county’s law enforcement building.

Some council members want to vote on the change as soon as January. The sheriff’s office, jail and courtroom were named the “Lexington County James R. Metts Law Enforcement Complex” in 2008 after private donors raised $40,000.

County council wasn’t united on the decision to honor Metts at the time, with some worried it was dangerous to honor a living person. The opponents were able to put in a provision to allow a council vote to remove Metts’ name.

Metts served Lexington County for 42 years before his indictment this summer. Prosecutors said he hindered the possible deportation of workers at a friend’s restaurant.

The former sheriff reached a deal with prosecutors this month to plead guilty and be sentenced to three years of probation. But U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten rejected the deal Wednesday, saying he was bothered Metts wouldn’t face any prison time. Federal guidelines for the felony charge Metts planned to plead guilty to call for 10 months to 16 months in prison.

The judge told both sides to plan to go to trial next month on the 10 charges against Metts.

Council members who want to remove Metts name said his willingness to plead guilty is enough evidence of wrongdoing.

“The community is speaking pretty loud about their opinion about what should be done here,” said County Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat, who voted to put Metts’ name on the building.

But not everyone on council is ready to act, including Councilman Todd Cullum of Cayce, who voted against naming the center for Metts.

“We should wait for this to play itself out,” Cullum said. “I don’t want to rush to judgment.”

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