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Ex-SC State trustee wants details on informants

  • Updated

— A former trustee at South Carolina State University accused of using his influence in exchange for a Porsche and other favors is asking the government to share its evidence against him.

In court documents filed this week, Greenville businessman Jonathan N. Pinson asked a judge to order federal prosecutors to disclose the names of any confidential informants they want to call at his trial. Pinson also said he wanted to see any potential evidence, including statements from his co-defendants and any surveillance video or other recordings.

Pinson was arraigned last month on two felony counts of interference with commerce by threat of violence. Prosecutors said an unnamed Florida businessman asked Pinson to help sell property called the “Sportsman’s Retreat” in Orangeburg County, where the university is located.

Pinson agreed to “illegally use his influence and position” to arrange for the school to buy the property in exchange for a Porsche SUV, prosecutors said.

Former university police chief Michael Bartley also agreed to help promote the sale of that property in exchange for about $30,000, according to the indictment. Authorities said they monitored Pinson’s phone calls in 2011 and learned of his deal with Bartley, who had also been set to get an all-terrain vehicle in the land deal, which never happened.

Prosecutors said Bartley confessed and agreed to help them. He has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will be sentenced later.

Prosecutors also said Pinson conspired with a Greenville businessman, Eric Robinson, to get kickbacks in exchange for using Robinson’s entertainment company to promote a 2011 homecoming concert at S.C. State. Both men have pleaded not guilty and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, and authorities have said they expect more indictments.

Pinson joined the South Carolina State board of trustees in 2005 and served as its chairman for several years until last February. He decided then to resign the leadership post, but held on to his seat on the board before leaving altogether in December, citing professional and family obligations.