COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin has been indicted on 47 new charges, including racketeering and money laundering, and prosecutors said Wednesday the allegations represent more layers of a complex drug conspiracy case.
They say Melvin's cooperation with drug dealers dates to early 2001, the year he was sworn in as sheriff. That year, prosecutors said in the 45-page indictment, Melvin began soliciting bribes from dealers in return for his protection.
Melvin also trafficked drugs himself, prosecutors allege, "describing himself to an associate as 'untouchable."
Melvin, 47, resigned in May after he and 11 others were charged with conspiring to deal drugs in Lee County. In court, an FBI agent later detailed phone calls between Melvin and several defendants, as well as unnamed people who also dealt drugs or helped with the investigation.
According to a sworn statement, a witness told the agent about a conversation he had with one defendant, allegedly a longtime drug dealer in Lee County, who told him, "If it wasn't for E.J., I wouldn't be doing the things that I do.