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Former South Carolina State University board chairman Jonathan Pinson is scheduled to report to federal prison on April 2, according to recently filed court documents.

He was originally scheduled to report to prison on March 1, but attorney Jim Griffin requested a 30-day extension so Pinson could “finalize arrangements for his family’s affairs while he serves his sentence,” according to a letter he filed on Feb. 21.

“We are not challenging (U.S. District Judge David) Norton’s sentence,” Griffin said on Friday.

“Jonathan has accepted the judgment of the court,” he said. Griffin said Pinson is eager put his prison sentence behind him and move forward.

Griffin noted that he “feels bad for Jonathan and his family.”

In July 2014, a jury convicted Pinson on 29 of 45 charges in schemes involving S.C. State’s 2011 homecoming, an effort to sell the 121-acre Sportsman’s Retreat to the university, a Marion County diaper factory and a Columbia-area housing complex called the Village at River’s Edge.

Norton initially sentenced Pinson to five years in prison in May 2015, but Pinson appealed the sentence. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned two of his convictions, which resulted in a January hearing in Charleston.

On Jan. 25, Norton resentenced Pinson to four years in prison, with three years of supervised release after he serves his time.

The Greenville businessman must also pay $337,843.02 in restitution. According to court documents, Pinson is required to pay restitution at a rate of $500 monthly after his prison sentence ends.

Assistant U.S. Attorney J.D. Rowell said after that hearing that prosecutors are satisfied with Norton’s sentence.

Pinson will serve his prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute in Edgefield, a medium-security facility.

Pinson’s co-defendants have also received sentences:

• Ed Givens, former chief counsel for S.C. State, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, admitting that he should’ve told authorities about Pinson’s schemes when federal authorities asked him about them. Givens received six months of probation, with credit given for the period of time he was on pre-trial supervision.

• Michael Bartley, former S.C. State police chief, pleaded guilty to conspiracy for trying to arrange for the university’s purchase of the Sportsman’s Retreat property in exchange for approximately $30,000 in cash and an all-terrain vehicle. He was sentenced to three years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

• Lancelot “Lance” Wright, former S.C. State trustee, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy for using loans intended to fund certain projects for personal reasons, including giving $5,000 to an employee of the city of Columbia where he was developing a 60-unit public housing complex. He was sentenced to 60 days in a half-way house, three years of probation and restitution of $994,777.65, joint and several with Phil Mims and Tony Williams.

• Robert A. “Tony” Williams, a co-investor with Wright, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy. He was sentenced to three years of probation and $994,777.65 in restitution with Mims and Wright.

• Phil Mims, a co-investor with Wright, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy. He was sentenced to three months in a half-way house but the sentence was modified to three months of electronic monitoring, three years of probation and restitution in the amount of $994,777.65 with Williams and Wright.

• Richard Zahn, a Florida developer who owned the Sportsman’s Retreat just outside of Orangeburg, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government. He was sentenced to three years of probation and funding a $25,000 scholarship at S.C. State.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.


Staff Writer

Martha Rose Brown covers crime and other topics. The South Carolina native has been a journalist for the past 15 years.

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