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      Sheriff arrested on drug charges, denied bond

      Six others arrested on federal conspiracy drug charges

      A South Carolina sheriff charged with drug distribution was denied bond Monday.

      Former Lee County Sheriff Edgar Jerome "E.J." Melvin and eight others involved in the case stood before a judge in federal court.

      Forty-seven-year-old Melvin, along with Eric Hickmon, Anthony Williams, Gary Ervin and Sheldon Bradley were all denied bond.

      United States Magistrate Judge Joseph R. McCrorey set $100,000 bond for the others, Larry Williams, Antonio Hollomon, Lucious Delane and Brenda Ellerby.

      Melvin and the others arrested Saturday are charged in federal warrants with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack.

      The F.B.I. says Melvin dealt drugs from his police SUV and extorted money from drug dealers to try to keep them out of trouble.

      In a sworn statement released on Monday, an FBI agent said investigators have a witness who saw former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin dealing drugs in November 2006.

      Authorities tapped Melvin's phone and say he offered money to drug dealers to try to get state and federal agents to stop investigating them.

      All nine individuals could face charges up to life in prison and $4 million in fines, with a minimum of at least 10 years behind bars.

      Melvin resigned after he was arrested.

      Read his handwritten resignation letter here.

      A spokesman says Gov. Mark Sanford will appoint an interim sheriff.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)