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Monday, October 25, 2010

Drug conspiracy trial begins for ex-Lee County sheriff | SCNOW

Drug conspiracy trial begins for ex-Lee County sheriff | SCNOW: "COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin is going on trial for dozens of federal charges including drug conspiracy and racketeering.

Melvin's trial officially gets under way Monday in Columbia.

Melvin has pleaded not guilty to nearly 50 charges that include money laundering and accepting kickbacks.

A jury was picked last week.� Melvin resigned in May after he and 11 others were charged in a drug conspiracy.

Melvin's co-defendants have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.

Prosecutors say Melvin began soliciting bribes from drug dealers in return for his protection as early as 2001, the year he became sheriff.

If convicted, Melvin could face life in prison and up to $4 million in fines."

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