Former House majority leader pleads guilty to misconduct

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Former South Carolina House Majority Leader Jim Merrill has pleaded guilty a day after turning in his resignation.

Judge Robert Hood sentenced Merrill to a year of probation after he pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in office. Solicitor David Pascoe says Merrill agrees to continue cooperating with state and federal investigations.

The Charleston Republican had been suspended since a grand jury indicted him in December on two counts of misconduct in office and 28 counts of ethics violations. Merrill faced up to 66 years in prison and $146,000 in fines if convicted on all 30 counts. Merrill was accused of illegally profiting from his position.

Merrill has denied doing anything illegal.

He was first elected to the House in 2000 and was majority leader from 2004 to 2008.

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