Former Lee County Sheriff Convicted of Racketeering and Drug Conspiracy
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 11, 2010|
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that Edgar Jerome Melvin, age 47, of Bishopville, South Carolina, was found guilty of 37 counts of the second superseding indictment, including racketeering, drug conspiracy, extortion, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and making false statements.
Melvin was the sheriff of Lee County from 2001 until 2009. He became the target of an investigation by the FBI and SLED in 2006 after sources revealed that he received cash payments to provide protection and information to drug dealers.
Evidence presented at trial established that Melvin became closely associated with several drug dealers that he used to extort other drug dealers. In exchange, the drug dealers avoided arrest and he gave them information about police activity. Melvin also extorted business people who wanted to do business with Lee County and stole money from the Victim’s Advocacy Fund..
Sentencing is scheduled for January 7, 2011. Melvin was taken into custody at the conclusion of the trial, and he will remain in prison awaiting sentencing.
Mr. Nettles stated, “Police officers are not above the law. When a public official, such as Mr. Melvin, abuses his authority, he drains the public trust and erodes the confidence that our citizens should have in law enforcement.”
Melvin’s co-conspirators pled guilty to being a member of the drug conspiracy this past summer and are being sentenced this week. Melvin faces a mandatory minimum term of at least 10 years and a maximum term of life. Sentencing is scheduled for January 7, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
The case was investigated by Special Agent Chris Garrett of the FBI, and SLED agents Richard Gregory and Angel Underwood. Assistant United States Attorneys J.D. Rowell, Mark Moore, and Deborah B. Barbier prosecuted the case.