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Columbia Housing Authority official calls Pinson 'inept' during federal corruption trial

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

It's been a tough week for the two defendants in a major public corruption trial underway in Columbia.

Thursday marked day four of the federal trial of Jonathan Pinson and Eric Robinson.

The government is trying to back up claims made Monday in its opening statement that Pinson in particular had a habit of putting the squeeze on agencies and people with money. Then illegally converting the cash for his own uses.

Columbia Housing Authority's Jethro Currie serves as Director of Capital Improvements, overseeing disbursement of federal Housing and Urban Development funds to projects including the Village at River's Edge. 

The Village at River's Edge is a project near the Broad River in Columbia on the former site of the troubled Roosevelt Village complex.

Pinson, a former SC State University board chairman assembled millions of dollars for that project.

But Currie told a jury Thursday some of that money wasn't getting to the Village's general contractor on time. So much so that SK Construction made plans to stop construction.

And later, the Housing Authority decided to send its payments directly to the company, bypassing Pinson.

Currie blamed Pinson today calling him "inept" and a neophyte when it came to development work.

Prosecutors and a nearly four dozen count indictment say Pinson was more than that.

They accuse him of racketeering, extortion, fraud and lying to federal agents.

The latest round of testimony turned out to be more mundane than Wednesday's revelations.

Those, describing a December 2010 private jet trip taking Pinson, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and others to Orlando.

A trip paid for by Florida businessman Richard Zahn and one that saw the group end up at a strip bar and two of the women at that bar, showing up later at the hotel where the South Carolinians were staying.

Much of Thursday's testimony did not touch on matters involving co-defendant Eric Robinson who is charged in connection with a concert promotion at SC State University.

In fact, Robinson's attorney offered no cross examination of key witness Jethro Currie.

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