Former SC State trustee guilty on 29 charges - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Former SC State trustee guilty on 29 charges

Former SC State trustee guilty on 29 charges

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Former South Carolina State University trustee Jonathan Pinson has been found guilty of more than two dozen charges in a federal corruption case.

A jury returned the verdict Thursday.

The jury considered 45 counts charging Pinson with various violations of federal law, including: conspiracy, theft of federal funds, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements, extortion under color of law and state law bribery.

The indictment alleged that Pinson used his position as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of South Carolina State University to commit those illegal acts.

The jury considered evidence that the former Chairman engaged in four different schemes.

One scheme revolved around the 2011 homecoming concert at South Carolina State University and his efforts to steer the concert promotion contract to his close friend and former South Carolina State roommate, Eric Robinson, in exchange for a kickback.
Other schemes included his theft of government funds earmarked for a diaper plant in Marion County.

According to a release, evidence showed that proceeds from the grant, intended to create jobs in rural Marion County, were instead pocketed by Mr. Pinson and his associates, Lance Wright, Tony Williams, and Phil Mims.

Pinson's three associates all plead guilty to charges related to the fraud.

Pinson was also convicted of theft of government funds received from a $10,000,000 stimulus grant intended for the Village at Rivers Edge development in Columbia, South Carolina.

In the final scheme, Pinson again used his position as to influence SC State officials to purchase land known as “Sportsman’s Retreat”. The seller of the property, Richard Zahn, Pinson's business partner, testified that he agreed to pay a kickback to Pinson in the form of a new Porsche Cayenne, an SUV valued at approximately $90,000.

During the two and one-half week trial, the Government called twenty witnesses, introduced approximately 200 exhibits and played 118 secretly recorded telephone calls. The calls were from July 21 to November 20, 2011.

Jonathan Pinson will be sentenced at a later date.

His Co-defendant, Eric Robinson, was acquitted of 7 counts.
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