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September date set for ex-SC sheriff's drug trial

Jul 6, 2010 1:53:00 PM - thestate.com
The trial for a former South Carolina sheriff charged as part of a drug conspiracy has been delayed until September, a judge ordered Tuesday, as federal prosecutors proceed with plea negotiations for 11 other people charged in the case.

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said she would delay jury selection and trial for former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin to give attorneys more time to examine evidence, such as wiretapped conversations and interview documents.

Melvin was arrested in May and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of powder cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. Investigators say Melvin also tried to protect drug dealers from state and federal investigators.

Melvin is out on bond and has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could get 10 years to life in prison.

Eleven other people from Lee County have been charged as part of the drug conspiracy, and prosecutors said Tuesday they are negotiating plea agreements with all of them except for Melvin.