Melvin co-defendant pleads guilty, former sheriff in court

Former Sheriff E.J. Melvin walks into the courthouse
Former Sheriff E.J. Melvin walks into the courthouse

BISHOPVILLE, SC (WIS) - The thirteenth co-conspirator in the federal drug conspiracy case against former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

Terry Lee Gunsauley, Jr. admitted to his role in the conspiracy case after federal agents caught him on wiretaps buying cocaine from another Melvin co-defendant, Eric Hickmon -- a man prosecutors say was on the former sheriff's payroll. Gunsauley faces between 5 and 40 years in federal prison.

Co-defendant Roshell Brown plans to enter a plea to a role in the conspiracy ring. Brown asked the judge to allow him until next week to plead guilty.

Co-conspirator Lucius Delane, who pleaded guilty last month, is back in federal custody. Delane had been out of jail on bond, awaiting sentencing. That changed when prosecutors say doctors checked Delane into a Hartsville hospital after he told mental health workers he was hearing voices in his head telling him to kill his wife. Delane's sentencing is set for November.     

Melvin himself was in court on Wednesday for a hearing. Prosecutors asked a judge to have the IRS turn over Melvin and his wife's tax returns that span several years. Prosecutors think Melvin is involved in kickbacks, extortion, and using more than $5,000 in county funds for his own use.

Prosecutors are also asking for handwriting samples from Melvin to have a forensic examiner compare to documents, checks and other evidence seized in a search warrant on Melvin's office inside the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

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