Former Lee County sheriff moved to Texas prison

By Jody Barr - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS)- The United States Marshals Service has moved former two-term Lee County sheriff EJ Melvin from a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina to a prison in Texas. US District Judge Cameron Currie initially approved the Butner Federal Correctional Complex for Melvin because of "security reasons," according to Currie's original order.

Sometime within the past couple weeks, federal officials moved Melvin to the Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, TX, according to the Bureau of Prisons. The prison houses 1,465 "medium security" convicts. The facility is 100 miles east of Houston, 35 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Melvin is 1,000 miles from his home in Bishopville.

Melvin led the Lee County Sheriff's Office from January 2001 until his arrest May 1, 2010. Melvin was a two-term sheriff, who faced no serious threat of opposition for the sheriff's office.  In November, a federal jury in Columbia convicted the former sheriff of running a drug conspiracy inside the county, extorting money from drug dealers, protecting drug dealers from investigations, as well as several other charges. Currie sentenced Melvin to 212 months for his leadership role in the conspiracy.

Melvin will never be allowed to carry a firearm and must give federal authorities a DNA sample as part of his sentence.

Melvin was one of 13 other people charged in the conspiracy. The former sheriff was the only one to ask for a trial in the case; all the others pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy charges and testified and gave information about Melvin.

The judge's order requires Melvin to pay total restitution of $22, 470 for the tax dollars he stole during the conspiracy. The amount includes $11, 695 from the Lee County Victim Advocacy Fund, $775 from the Lee County Council, and $5,300 for the money Melvin extorted from convicted drug dealers Eric Hickmon and Lucius Delane. Melvin will start paying the restitution 60 days after he's released from prison, at $100 a month.

The US Marshals held Melvin at the Lexington County Detention Center since his November 2010 conviction.  Two weeks later, the Marshals service moved the former sheriff to Irwin County, Ga. Detention Center while he awaited sentencing. Melvin was transferred back to the Lexington County Detention Center for his sentencing, where he remained until the federal bureau of prisons assigned Melvin to the Butner facility.

EJ Melvin will be 63 years old when he's released from prison on his projected release date of March 26, 2026.

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