Fla. businessman Zahn testifies in Pinson trial - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fla. businessman Zahn testifies in Pinson trial

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The government called what seemed to be their final witness late Wednesday afternoon, but the fireworks came earlier when more testimony was given from Florida businessman Richard Zahn.

The high-rolling developer who, as he indicated, hung out with star athletes and owned more Porsches and planes than he could keep track of, had a tight relationship with Jonathan Pinson, the former South Carolina State University board chairman.

On Nov. 14, 2011, the FBI came by to ask Pinson about the Village at River's Edge in Columbia. The agents wanted to know about a payment given to City of Columbia employee Tony Lawton.

By then, the FBI had Pinson's cell phone wiretapped. The recordings that the agents picked up included a conversation that Pinson had with Zahn telling the developer that he was "a little shaken up."

Zahn had no direct role in the Village project, but he was working on a plan with Pinson that included a promise to give Pinson a Porsche Cayenne SUV for helping him push a deal through to sell nearly $3 million worth of real estate Zahn owned to the university. 

Pinson and Zahn kicked around a lot of different ideas about projects in those phone calls. At one point, Zahn indicated that he might look into getting some of what he called the "Bull Run" property in Columbia. That property that Zahn was referring to was on Bull Street because Pinson didn't think an unnamed developer, apparently Bob Hughes, was big enough to handle the project.

At this point, there has been no indication whether Pinson himself will testify.

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