Former Lee County Sheriff in more trouble, connected to State House candidate

Already deep in trouble with the feds on drug charges, former Lee County Sheriff E.J Melvin, who was forced out of the office in May when initially charged by the feds, has been indicted on nearly fifty federal charges:

Former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin has been indicted on 47 new charges, including racketeering and money laundering, and prosecutors said Wednesday the allegations represent more layers of a complex drug conspiracy case.

They said Melvin's cooperation with drug dealers dates to early 2001, the year he was sworn in as sheriff. That year, prosecutors said in the 45-page indictment, Melvin began soliciting bribes from dealers in return for his protection.

Melvin also trafficked drugs himself, prosecutors allege, "describing himself to an associate as 'untouchable.' "

Melvin appeared about 10 pounds slimmer than when he was arrested and was joined by Benny Webb, a former SLED agent and current Democratic candidate for the South Carolina State House District 60 seat, currently held by Rep. Phillip Lowe, R-Florence, who is seeking re-election. Webb sat next to Melvin and chatted with the former sheriff.

"Yes, ma'am," were the only words Melvin uttered in his court appearance, confirming to U.S. Magistrate Judge Paige Jones Gossett that he understood the charges and attendant penalties.

Like Melvin, Webb's record in the law enforcement profession has plenty of questions. Perhaps this is why they'd stick together in the face of this brewing scandal.

Lee County voters don't have to worry about Melvin anymore, but given this association, Florence and Sumter County voters should be wondering if they really want Webb representing them in Columbia.

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