Former Chairman of the Board of SCSU and Upstate Man Indicted
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 10, 2013|
COLUMBIA, SC—Jonathon N. Pinson, age 42, of Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Eric Robinson, age 42, of Greer, South Carolina, were arraigned in federal court in Columbia on a three-count indictment alleging violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951 (the Hobbs Act). The indictment charges Pinson and Robinson in count one with conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act by affecting and attempting to affect interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right, as Pinson is the former chairman of the Board of Trustees of South Carolina State University (SCSU).
Pinson and Robinson were also charged in count two with a violation of the Hobbs Act involving an alleged “kickback” scheme in connection with the 2011 SCSU Homecoming concert.
Count three charges Pinson with a violation of the Hobbs Act and alleges a scheme whereby Pinson would receive a Porsche Cayenne in exchange for his assistance in arranging the purchase of property known as “Sportsman’s Retreat” by SCSU.
Magistrate Judge Joseph R. McCrorey set a $25,000 secured bond for Pinson and a $15,000 secured bond for Robinson.
The maximum penalty Pinson and Robinson could receive is 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a special assessment of $100 on each count in which they are charged.
US Attorney Bill Nettles stated, “South Carolina State University and its students are the victims of the crimes charged in this Indictment, not the target. This investigation does not target South Carolina State University. Rather, this indictment focuses on two individuals who are alleged to have used their positions and relationships to prey on the university and line their pockets at the university’s expense.”
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. Mr. Nettles stated that other indictments and charges are expected in connection with this ongoing investigation.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.