COLUMBIA (WACH) - Right now the question many are asking when it comes to Lexington County Sheriff James Metts is...what now?
To really understand what is coming next for Metts, it's important to fully know the nature of his alleged crimes.
It turns out Metts' phone conversations with former Lexington councilmen Danny Frazier and Greg Leon, both of whom have been charged with bribing Metts, are what allowed the U.S. Attorney to get involved.
"The underlying crime is a bribery crime, which is a state crime. But if you use the wire, or a telephone, which is alleged in this indictment, they talked on the cell phone to facilitate all this, that turns that into a federal crime." says former U.S. Attorney Pete Strom.
Strom served as the U.S. Attorney for South Carolina for three years.
He says federal charges inherently carry a lot of weight because a federal grand jury would not indict someone without ample proof the person did what they're accused of.
"The allegations here are horrible. It's a black eye on law enforcement. I mean I think we hope it's not true, but given my experience, I suspect there is very, very ample evidence to lead a jury to believe that he may have violated the law." Strom says.
Since Metts' indictment does include federal charges, there's something in place called the Speedy Trial Act, which means that Metts could have his day at the federal courthouse sooner than you'd think.
The act essentially puts a time limit on how long each stage of federal prosecution can take, which prevents things from dragging out.
"Unlike a state charge, that sometimes takes several years to go to trial, this case...by this time next year, certainly, and probably by late spring...his case will be dealt with one way or the other." Strom explains.
In the meantime, eyes are turning to Lexington to see how the county will weather this storm.
Leaders are saying the best way to handle things is not to dwell on the past but instead, forge full speed ahead.
"I think we have a good leader in Lewis McCarty and we're going to see what happens here. Let him lead and move forward from there. I think he'll do a good job." says Senator Katrina Shealy from Lexington County.
A solid vote of confidence that is much needed as Lexington works to regain its footing and move forward into a bright future.