Ex-SC sheriff faces hearing on drug charges

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A former South Carolina sheriff charged with drug distribution is to appear in federal court in Columbia for a detention hearing.

Prosecutors on Wednesday afternoon will ask that former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin be held until his trial. They plan to play tapes of ominous threats recorded when they wiretapped Melvin's phone last month.

He's been in jail since his arrest Saturday. Melvin is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of powder cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. If convicted, he faces at least 10 years in prison and could face up to life behind bars.

Six others have been charged, none work for the sheriff's department.

Melvin had been sheriff since 2001 but resigned shortly after his arrest.

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