Fmr. sheriff's mistress gets probation in theft of tax dollars | News
LEE COUNTY, SC (WIS) – The woman who admitted to helping former Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin steal more than $10,000 in victim's advocate funds, won't spend a day in prison for her crimes. US District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie sentenced former LCSO Victims Advocate Angela Ruth to three years probation at a hearing Nov. 19 in Columbia.
Ruth won't have to answer for stealing the tax dollars after prosecutors dropped that charge in exchange for her plea.
Federal prosecutors secured a three-count indictment against Ruth two years after the FBI first interviewed her in connection to the Melvin drug conspiracy case. Ruth admitting lying to the FBI and federal prosecutors about her involvement with Melvin and their scheme to bilk the victims advocate fund. Prosecutors agreed to drop the charge of stealing public funds, but upheld the lying to investigators counts.
Ruth is represented by Todd Rutherford, a Democrat member of the South Carolina House of Representatives.
Ruth testified for prosecutors against former Sheriff E.J. Melvin and initially pleaded "not guilty" to the three charges before changing her plea last week.
After arresting Melvin in May 2010, investigators were looking into where more than $12,000 in Lee County Victims Advocate funds went between 2008 and 2010. Agents found a stack of checks signed by Ruth, made out to E.J. Melvin. Federal investigators interviewed Ruth, on July 15, 2010 while FBI agents were in the process of tracking down Melvin's finances.
Sheriff Daniel Simon told WIS in 2010 that Ruth resigned on Sept. 20, 2010 for "personal reasons." Simon would not talk about the specifics surrounding Ruth's departure, but he said he knew she was under investigation by the FBI.
Agents started investigating Ruth "because a review of Melvin's personal bank account records from SAFE Federal Credit Union showed that over $12,000 in checks were written to Melvin out of the Lee County Victim's Advocate fund," according to court records.
The checks were for reimbursements for Melvin's catering services. In a July 15 interview with investigators, Ruth admitted she had a 12-year affair with Melvin. Ruth told investigators that Melvin would send her an invoice for his catering services, on events "that had little or nothing to do with providing services to crime victims," according to court records.
Ruth denied that she ever received any kickbacks from the funds she provided Melvin until federal agents interviewed her a second time.
During the second meeting, agents said Ruth hired Columbia attorney Charles Johnson. Ruth admitted to investigators that she received a "cut" of the checks she issued Melvin only after agents played a recorded phone call between her and Melvin, the filing states.
Court records show Ruth "admitted that when Melvin told her that he would give 'sic' to you, he was telling her that she would get $600.00 in cash if she cut him a check for $1,640 from the Victim's Advocate fund." Ruth told investigators that in 2008, Melvin started charging "extremely high prices" for the catering services. That's when agents said Ruth asked Melvin to "cut her in on the deal." The pair agreed that Ruth would write Melvin checks, "without questioning his bills," according to the court filing.
At some point during the pair's relationship and the alleged money laundering scheme, Ruth told Melvin "that she was concerned that he was associating with too many drug dealers," records showed. Melvin told Ruth that he was "untouchable," according to federal agents.
Agents documented a string of six checks deposited into Melvin's account, from the victims advocate account in 2009. The checks totaled $9,300. Ruth, according to court records, received at least $1,300 as a "cut" from Melvin.
Ruth was free on $25,000 bond.
Melvin is currently serving an 18-year prison sentence at the Beaumont, TX federal penitentiary after a federal jury convicted him of multiple criminal conspiracy, racketeering, and extortion counts in November 2010. Melvin used his office to protect drug dealers from prosecutors, then he would "shakedown" those same dealers for payments.
Melvin will be freed on March 26, 2026.
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