Indictment against Jonathan N. Pinson and Eric Robinson

2013-01-11T00:52:00Z 2013-11-19T23:13:16Z Indictment against Jonathan N. Pinson and Eric Robinson The Times and Democrat
January 11, 2013 12:52 am

Dec. 19, 2012

The Grand Jury charges:

Background

At all times relevant to this Indictment:

A. South Carolina State University (hereinafter “SCSU”) is a publically-funded, state supported school located in Orangeburg, South Carolina that receives both state and federal funds. SCSU is governed by a Board of Trustees (“the Board”), and the substantial majority of the Board’s members are elected to their positions by the South Carolina General Assembly, The Board has the power to hire and fire the President of SCSU. The Board has substantial influence and control over the affairs of SCSU and its affiliated foundations and organizations. The Chairman of the Board is elected by the Board from among its membership. The Board and its Chairman have a fiduciary relationship with, and solemn obligations to, SCSU and its students, faculty, and alumni. The Board and its Chairman also have a fiduciary relationship with the citizens of the State of South Carolina,

B. SCSU has a number of full-time employees and it transacts business in interstate commerce. Like other educational governmental entities, SCSU owns real property and is responsible for supplying various services to its residents. One of SCSU’s programs is the 1890 Research and Extension Program (hereinafter “1890 Program”). The 1890 Program receives much of its funding from the United States Department of Agriculture. Through the 1890 Program, SCSU provides a variety of public services to rural and urban limited-resource families. The 1890 Program allowed SCSU to build “extension” offices throughout South Carolina. SCSU also provides a variety of services to its students. Historically, SCSU has organized a concert each year, to be held the night before the homecoming football game. At these concerts, professional musicians would perform for the students. These concerts were paid for by SCSU through fees charged to the students. In addition, during the time periods relevant to this Indictment, SCSU received in excess of $10,000.00 each year in federal funds through various grant programs and otherwise.

C. Defendant JONATHAN N. PINSON is a businessman from Greenville, South Carolina and a member of the Board of SCSU, having been elected by the South Carolina General Assembly. In addition, Defendant PINSON served as Chairman of the Board, having been elected to that position by members of the Board. As an elected member of the Board of a state-supported university, Defendant PINSON is a public official. Further, Defendant PINSON has a fiduciary relationship with, and owes a duty of loyalty to, SCSU, its students, faculty and alumni, and the citizens of the State of South Carolina. In violation of those fiduciary relationships and duties, Defendant PINSON used his position as Chairman of the Board to illegally enrich himself and improperly obtain various items of value.

D. Defendant ERIC ROBINSON is a businessman from Greenville, South Carolina and is a close personal friend of Defendant PINSON. Defendants PINSON and ROBINSON have been involved in several joint business ventures centered in Greenville, South Carolina, the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area, and other locations. Additionally, Defendant ROBINSON was a partner in WE Entertainment, a concert promotions business which operated in Greenville, Atlanta, and elsewhere. Defendant ROBINSON and WE Entertainment sought business with SCSU and its affiliated organizations and entities, and was able (through the efforts and intercessions of Defendant PINSON and others) to secure a contract to manage the 2011 SCSU homecoming concert. In return, Defendant ROBINSON and WE Entertainment agreed to provide a “kickback” to Defendant PINSON.

E. Person A is a businessman from Florida with a substantial ownership interest in a construction company based in Florida. Person A was involved in proposed business ventures with Defendants PINSON and ROBINSON in Columbia, South Carolina and in the Atlanta, Georgia area (including but not limited to DeKalb County, Georgia). Person A also owned a piece of real property in Orangeburg County, the “Sportsman’s Retreat,” which Person A wished to sell. Person A requested Defendant PINSON’s assistance in arranging the purchase of the Sportsman’s Retreat by SCSU and the 1890 Foundation. Defendant PINSON agreed to illegally use his influence and position to arrange the purchase of the property by SCSU and the 1890 Foundation at a price set by Person A in return for Person A’s agreement to buy a new Porsche Cayenne automobile for Defendant PINSON.

F. Person B was employed by SCSU as its Chief of Police and was, therefore, a public official. Person B is a friend of both Defendant PINSON and Person A, and he (Person B) agreed to help promote the sale of the Sportsman’s Retreat to SCSU in exchange for a payment of approximately $30,000.00 in cash, plus at least one other item of value.

THE CONSPIRACY

G. Beginning at a time unknown to the Grand Jury, but beginning in at least 2009 and continuing up to and including late 2011, in the District of South Carolina and elsewhere, the Defendants, JONATHAN N. PINSON and ERIC ROBINSON, knowingly, willfully and intentionally did combine, conspire, agree and have tacit understanding with each other and with others, both known and unknown to the grand jury, to violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951 (the Hobbs Act) by affecting and attempting to affect interstate commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right.

MANNER AND MEANS

OF THE CONSPIRACY

As a part of the conspiracy:

H. Defendant PINSON solicited various “kickbacks” in return for agreements to use his official position to benefit persons who agreed to provide items of value to Defendant PINSON and his accomplices;

I. Defendant PINSON used his position as Chairman of the Board to obtain various improper financial benefits;

J. Defendant ROBINSON agreed to assist Defendant PINSON in collecting “kickback” payments, and also used Defendant PINSON’s position and connections to financially benefit himself (Defendant ROBINSON);

K, Defendants PINSON and ROBINSON conspired to solicit a “kickback” from Person A which was to be paid to a public official in Georgia, and agreed to demand an inflated amount from Person A, with the excess payment to be split between Defendants PINSON and ROBINSON; and

L, Defendants PINSON and ROBINSON used cellular telephones and other instrumentalities of and in interstate commerce, and made trips to other states (including Georgia and Florida, with Defendant PINSON traveling on at least one occasion to Florida in a private jet supplied by Person A) to further the purposes of the conspiracy;

All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951.

COUNT TWO

THE GRAND JURY

FURTHER CHARGES:

A. The allegations contained in Count One are realleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein,

B. That in or around fall 2011, in the District of South Carolina, the Defendants, JONATHAN N. PINSON and ERIC ROBINSON, did, as principals, aiders and abettors, and as co-participants in jointly undertaken criminal activity, knowingly, wilfully and unlawfully affect and attempt to affect interstate commerce, and the movement of articles and commodities in interstate commerce, by extortion, in that the Defendants attempted to obtain and did obtain a sum of United States currency, said property not due Defendant PINSON or his office, from persons and entities seeking and doing business with SCSU and its affiliated organizations, with the consent of those persons and entities, wrongfully induced under color of official right, as Defendant PINSON requested a “kickback” in order to use his influence to arrange WE Entertainment’s engagement as the primary promoter of SCSU’s 2011 Homecoming concert;

In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2.

COUNT THREE

THE GRAND JURY

FURTHER CHARGES:

A. The allegations contained in Count One are realleged and incorporated as if fully set forth herein.

B. That in or around fall 2011, in the District of South Carolina, the Defendant, JONATHAN N. PINSON, and Person B did, as principals, aiders and abettors, and as co-participants in jointly undertaken criminal activity, knowingly, wilfully and unlawfully attempt to affect interstate commerce, and the movement of articles and commodities in interstate commerce, by extortion, in that Defendant PINSON and Person B attempted to arrange the purchase of the Sportsman’s Retreat by SCSU and the 1890 Foundation in exchange for Person A’s agreement to provide Defendant PINSON with a new Porsche Cayenne automobile, and to further provide Person B with approximately $30,000.00 in United States currency, said property not due Defendant PINSON, Person B, or their offices, with Person A’s consent, wrongfully induced under color of official right;

In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2.

FORFEITURE

1- SPECIFIED

UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES:

Upon conviction for one or more violations of Title 18, United States Code, 1951 (Hobbs Act), as charged in this Indictment, the Defendants, JONATHAN N. PINSON and ERIC ROBINSON, shall forfeit to the United States, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(l)(C) and Title 28, United States Code, Section 2461 (c), any property, real or personal, which constitutes, or is derived from, any proceeds the Defendants obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violations, and any property traceable to such property;

2. PROPERTY:

A. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C, § 981(a)(I)(C), and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c), the property which is subject to forfeiture upon conviction of the Defendants for the offenses charged in this Indictment includes, but is not limited to, the following: 1. ; Proceeds/ Money Judgment:

(a) A sum of money, and all interest and proceeds traceable thereto, in that such sum equals the value of the proceeds the Defendants obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of their violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, as charged in Counts I through 3 of this Indictment for which the Defendants are jointly and severally liable.

SUBSTITUTION

OF ASSETS:

If any of the property described above as being subject to forfeiture, as a result of any act or omission of the Defendants -

(1) cannot be located upon the exercise of due diligence;

(2) has been transferred or sold to, or deposited with, a third person;

(3) has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the Court;

(4) has been substantially diminished in value; or

(5) has been commingled with other property which cannot be subdivided without difficulty;

It is the intent of the United States, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 982(b)(l), incorporating Title 21, United States Code, Section 853(p), to seek forfeiture of any other property of the said Defendants up to an amount equivalent to the value of the above-described forfeitable property;

Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981(a)(l)(C), and Title 28, United States Code, Section 246 l(c).

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