*A South Carolina sheriff dealt drugs from his police SUV and when state and federal agents gave him a list of possible drug dealers in his county, he immediately started calling to tip them off or extort money to get them off the list, according to the FBI.
The FBI tapped then-Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin’s phone starting in March, and caught him saying he was going to arrange for a traffic stop on a drug dealer, take some of the cocaine he expected to find for himself and use the rest as evidence, according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent released Monday.
Melvin was arrested Saturday and remained in jail Monday after a preliminary hearing. Melvin resigned his office the day he was arrested. A spokesman said Gov. Mark Sanford will appoint an interim sheriff.
Melvin and six others were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of powder cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. If convicted, the former sheriff faces a mandatory 10 years in prison and could face up to life behind bars.
Melvin’s friends and family helped pack the courtroom Monday. He briefly acknowledged them as he shuffled in with his ankles and wrists shackled after a weekend in jail. But he spent most of the hearing with his eyes closed and his head titled back.
His family was stunned by Saturday’s arrest, but said they are confident he will be found innocent.
Get the family’s reaction and the rest of this AP story HERE.