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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Former Chairman of Board of Trustees for South Carolina State Resentenced to 4 Years in Federal Prison

Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Beth Drake announced that Jonathan Pinson, age 47, of Greenville, South Carolina, was resentenced today in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina, for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud (Counts 12, 18), Mail Fraud (Counts 25, 26), Wire Fraud (Counts 27-34), Money Laundering (Counts 35-41) and False Statements (Counts 43-46 and 48-50).  United States District Judge David C. Norton sentenced Mr. Pinson to 48 months concurrent on each count of conviction, to be followed by 3 years supervised release. Judge Norton imposed restitution in the amount of $337,843.05.

In June 2014, a jury convicted Mr. Pinson for his involvement in four different schemes.  One scheme revolved around the 2011 homecoming concert at SCSU and Mr. Pinson’s efforts to steer the concert promotion contract to his close friend and former SCSU roommate in exchange for a kickback. 

Other schemes included Mr. Pinson’s theft of government funds earmarked for the installation of a diaper plant in Marion County.  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, each of whom pled guilty to charges related to the fraud. 

Mr. Pinson was also convicted of theft of government funds received from a 10 million dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant (commonly known as stimulus money) intended for the development known as the Village at Rivers Edge (VRE).

In the final scheme Mr. Pinson again used his position as Chairman of the Board of SCSU to influence officials at SCSU 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 Mr. Pinson in the form of a new Porsche Cayenne, an SUV valued at approximately 90 thousand dollars.   

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, authorized by a court ordered wiretap, covered from July 21 to November 20, 2011.

Mr. Pinson was originally sentenced on May 20, 2015.  He appealed and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his conviction on three of the counts of conviction, necessitating a resentencing hearing. 

The case was investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI).  Assistant United States Attorneys Dewayne Pearson, J.D. Rowell, Jane Taylor, and Nancy Wicker of the Columbia office prosecuted the case.


Financial Fraud
JD Rowell (803) 929-3000
Updated January 25, 2018