COLUMBIA, S.C., SEPT. 21 -- A federal grand jury today indicted five more legislators on charges involving bribery and drugs, bringing to 10 the number of lawmakers snared by an FBI investigation of the South Carolina statehouse.
In addition to the legislators, a registered lobbyist, James Madison Brown V, was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of possessing marijuana.
The indictments grew out of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into vote-buying in the South Carolina General Assembly. Of five legislators charged in August, three have pleaded guilty and another is expected to plead guilty next week.
The legislators charged today with violating the Hobbs Act, a federal antibribery law, are Reps. Thomas Limehouse, Ennis Fant, Larry Blanding and B.J. Gordon.
In addition, Rep. Donna A. Moss, 36, was charged with misdemeanor cocaine possession. She has admitted using cocaine once and resigned today.
House Speaker Bob Sheheen suspended the other indicted lawmakers, as required by House rules.
Limehouse, 31, was charged in a three-count indictment with two violations of the Hobbs Act, conspiracy to solicit bribes and obstruction of justice.
He was accused of accepting $2,000 from Ron Cobb, a lobbyist who worked undercover for the FBI in the sting operation. His lawyer, Andy Savage, said Limehouse intends to plead innocent.
Fant, 29; Blanding, 37, and Gordon, 57, were charged together in one count of conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act.
Each was charged separately with accepting bribes. None was available for comment, although Blanding had said earlier that he was not guilty.
Violations of the Hobbs Act carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine.