Former SC State Board chair, accused accomplice at federal arraignment

Former SC State University Chairman Jonathan Pinson
Former SC State University Chairman Jonathan Pinson

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - SC State's former board chairman and his business partner face a total of 52 new counts related to the federal public corruption case at the university.

Jonathan Pinson and Eric Robinson pleaded not guilty to charges at their arraignment in federal court Tuesday morning.

Pinson chose not to comment to WIS' Jody Barr when he was approached walking into the hearing. The former SC State chairman faces charges accusing him of leading a criminal enterprise through his chairmanship and business dealings.

Pinson's business partner, Eric Robinson, was also in court.

He asked Barr why he kept "filming," and Barr replied, "Well, you're involved in this case."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Robinson answered.

"You're not Eric Robinson?" asked Barr.

"No," said Robinson.
The FBI accuses both men of buying into and participating in crimes ranging from extortion, to bribery, to money laundering and lying to the FBI. Prosecutors say the pair was involved in several business ventures from Orangeburg, to Greenville, to Georgia.

Robinson's role, according to prosecutors, was to provide kickbacks to Pinson. In exchange, Pinson allowed him to remain in the enterprise.

For example, the FBI says Pinson used his position at SC State to award Robinson the promoter's contract for the 2011 Homecoming concert.  Investigators say Robinson paid Pinson a kickback.

The FBI says both men lied to agents investigating the homecoming case.

Prosecutors say a major part of this case is based off wire taps the FBI placed on Pinson's cell phone. Pinson's attorneys want those recorded phone calls thrown out.  A judge will decide that next month.

This case is scheduled to go to trial in March.

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