Parish to plead guilty to state charge

Al Parish

Al Parish, the flamboyant economist who admitted to bilking about 600 people in a Ponzi-like investment scheme, will plead guilty to a state securities fraud charge, his attorney said.

Andy Savage said his client, a former Charleston Southern University professor, will be in court Monday to enter his plea on the state charge. The hearing is largely a formality, as Parish already pleaded guilty to three federal counts of fraud in a deal struck with prosecutors in October.

The state charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years; however, any penalty will likely be served concurrently with a federal sentence. Legal experts expect Parish will be imprisoned for 15 to 20 years by U.S. District Judge David Norton.

Acting on the request of Attorney General Henry McMaster's office, a Charleston County grand jury indicted Parish on a fraud charge in November, about six months after a federal grand jury levied 11 criminal charges against him.

Parish spent investor money on everything from a purple jaguar and diamond-encrusted pens to a guitar once owned by Jimi Hendrix.

Parish has been under house arrest since November, while Savage and federal investigators calculate the total loss in the economist's "informal pools" of investments. In the latest estimate, the total loss figure dropped from $90 million to $79 million.

The court-appointed receiver expects to recover between 10 percent and 20 percent of that amount by liquidating Parish's assets.

Parish claimed amnesia when the investigation broke more than a year ago. A psychiatrist said at the time the condition was stress-induced and his memory has now improved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Kyle Stock at 937-5763 or kstock@postandcourier.com.