Florida Develop Pleads Guilty in Connection with South Carolina State University Extortion Plot
Contact Person: Beth Drake (803) 929-3000
Charleston, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that RICHARD ZAHN, age 44, of Lake Mary, Florida, pled guilty to an Information (copy attached) charging him with conspiring to commit honest service wire fraud by providing illegal bribes and kickbacks to public officials, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. United States District Judge David C. Norton of Charleston accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
According to facts presented at the plea hearing and agreed to by ZAHN, ZAHN owned property in Orangeburg County known as “Sportsman’s Retreat”. ZAHN agreed to pay Michael Bartley, then the police chief of South Carolina State University (SCSU), and another SCSU official, in exchange for Bartley and the official using their positions and influence to effect the sale of property to SCSU at the $2.8 million price set by ZAHN. ZAHN agreed to pay Bartley approximately $30,000 in cash and buy him an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). He also agreed to buy the other SCSU official a Porsche Cayenne. Mr. Nettles stated that the maximum penalty ZAHN can receive is a fine of $250,000 and imprisonment for 5 years, plus a special assessment of $100.
The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS-CI). This case and its companion cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark C. Moore, Nancy C. Wicker, Jane B. Taylor and DeWayne Pearson.