Jury to get ex-SC sheriff's drug case soon

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Jurors are to begin deliberating the fate of a former Lee County sheriff facing dozens of federal charges, including drug conspiracy and racketeering.

Defense attorney Jack Swerling is giving his closing argument Friday for the trial of E.J. Melvin.

Melvin resigned in May after he and 11 others were charged with conspiring to deal drugs in Lee County.

Many of his co-defendants have pleaded guilty and testified against him. Prosecutors also played taped conversations they said showed Melvin conspiring to extort money from drug dealers in exchange for protection from investigation.

Melvin's trial in Columbia began Oct. 25. He faces up to life in prison and millions of dollars in fines if convicted.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.