South Carolina State University’s former board chairman, who has remained free since his conviction on corruption charges two years ago, has now won an appeal that will send his case back to federal court.
Jonathan Pinson, a former Greenville businessman, had been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $337,000.
Pinson remained free while awaiting his appeal, which was handled by Greenville attorney Billy Wilkins, who once served as chief justice of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 4th Circuit overturned Pinson’s conviction on racketeering, which Wilkins told The Greenville News was the most serious charge Pinson faced.
Other convictions have been affirmed, but the racketeering count will be retried and Pinson remains free on appeal bail, Wilkins said.
In the opinion issued today, the circuit court detailed Pinson’s business relationships and ventures from 2006 to 2012 — namely focusing on his involvement in the university’s homecoming concert and purchase of a luxury resort, a private diaper business and a project associated with his real estate development company.
The court affirmed convictions for his involvement in illegal schemes, but it determined that evidence “did not establish a single conspiracy, a RICO enterprise encompassing all four ventures, or a pattern of racketeering activity.”
The court supported Pinson’s convictions for honest services fraud, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and false statements.