Former SC State board chair now sentenced to 4 years in prison

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — The former S.C. State University board chairman sentenced to prison for taking kickbacks and skimming federal money from development projects now has a reduced prison sentence.

Jonathan Pinson was sentenced to five years in prison.

Prosecutors said Pinson skimmed federal money going to a low-income housing project in Columbia and a diaper factory in Marion County, then filed false paperwork to get more money from the government. They said he used his influence to make money off a homecoming concert at South Carolina State University and tried to get the college to buy land from a Florida developer.

READ: Jonathan Pinson – Motion to Reduce Sentence Filing

Jurors found Pinson not guilty of 16 counts, but Assistant U.S. Attorney J.D. Rowell pointed out that they found him guilty of at least one count in each of the schemes and of the racketeering charge that covered all of his conduct.

Pinson won an appeal in 2017 which sent it case back to federal court.

Now, new court document cites sentencing discrepancies among co-defendants as one reason why his sentence should be reconsidered on Thursday, January 25.

One person who has not been charged is Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, whose name was mentioned frequently as a business partner with Pinson. Court documents also cite the lack of charges against Benjamin as another reason the former chairman’s sentence should be lowered.

On Thursday, January 25, United States District Judge David C. Norton sentenced 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.

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).

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