Ex-Lee County sheriff pleads not guilty on 47 new charges - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Ex-Lee County sheriff pleads not guilty on 47 new charges

EJ Melvin EJ Melvin

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin pleaded not guilty to 47 new charges, including racketeering and money laundering Thursday in federal court.

Melvin resigned in May after he and 11 others were charged with conspiring to deal drugs. Prosecutors said in an indictment released last month Melvin abused his office "by using his position to unlawfully enrich himself and others" by dealing drugs, extorting kickbacks and laundering money.

The indictment supercedes the drug conspiracy charged issued to Melvin and 13 other people back in May. Since then, all 13 co-defendants pleaded guilty to the charge.

Prosecutors say Melvin's additional charges come after FBI and SLED agents spent several weeks interviewing people in and around Lee County. "Every time we interview someone, we find out more information on corruption with Mr. Melvin," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said in August.

Melvin is out on bond and has previously pleaded not guilty. If convicted on drug conspiracy, Melvin faces up to life in prison and up to $4 million in fines. He could face between 20 years and life in prison if convicted on the racketeering charges.

Related story:

Ex-sheriff faces more charges of racketeering, money laundering

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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