Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A judge has set bond at $200,000 for former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin, who's facing federal drug charges. LINK: Read the 18-Page Complaint Against Melvin
Melvin, 47, was at the courthouse for a detention hearing, where prosecutors tried to explain why they feel he should remain behind bars until his trial. Previous Coverage: Government Says Melvin Made 'Deeply Disturbing' Comments
In the end, however, the judge in the case felt Melvin was not a flight risk. If Melvin pays the bond, he would also be on house arrest, and would wear a monitoring device.
Prosecutors spent much of the afternoon laying out their evidence against Melvin, all of which is included in an affidavit.
FBI Special Agent Chris Garrett told the judge that the wiretap investigation into Melvin began in 2009, and that the State Law Enforcement Division has been assisting in the probe.
Garrett says they were wiretapping two suspected drug dealers, and those taps led them to take a look into Melvin's activities. At times during those wiretaps, Melvin is referred to as "Big Dog."
After 30 days of wiretaps, investigators determined that Melvin was involved in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and was protecting local drug dealers in exchange for money.
Garrett said that much of that money came to Melvin through campaign contributions by the drug dealers. He also said that Melvin was essentially on the payroll for drug dealers as protection.
Agents then were able to find cooperative witnesses who said they feared Melvin. In the affidavit Melvin is quoted as saying, "I don't trust you because you are a weak link. You try call my name, anything, I swear they are going to find you because I ain't going to let you take me down."
Investigators eventually confronted Melvin with a list of drug dealers that agents say he was in business with. After that meeting, agents say Melvin tipped off drug dealers to the investigation in an effort to get more money from them.
Investigators say Melvin acted as if he did not regularly talk to the people on the list, which they say was a lie.
Garrett says Melvin also tried to steer investigators away from some suspects, telling them that one of them was a "minor drug dealer," which they say was false.
Garrett says after Melvin was arrested, he tried to say that some of the drug suspects were his informants, and that he couldn't give them their personal cell phone numbers.
Prosecutors say they found other illegal activity, including illegal use of food stamp cards and protecting people who had written bad checks. They also say he had stolen items on his property, and was protecting people who had stolen items.
Melvin resigned shortly after his arrest. A special election will take place August 31 to replace him.