Former SC State Trustee Pleads Guilty

3:47 PM, Nov 6, 2013   |    comments
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Charleston, SC (WLTX) -- Former South Carolina State trustee Lancelot Wright is among three men who pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal conspiracy to steal and convert public funds and bank fraud charges.

Wright, along with Robert Williams and Phillip Mims, pleaded guilty in federal court in Charleston. Prosecutors say the three falsified invoices and used loans for purposes other than what they were intended to be used for.

Investigators say the three obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans through several businesses. Those businesses included Strategies Development Group, the Columbia development project called Village at River's Edge, and a diaper plant in Marion County called Softee Supremes. 

Wright, Williams and former SC State trustee Jonathan Pinson were involved in the job announcement of the plant. Pinson has been indicted by federal prosecutors over charges that he took kick back from a developer that wanted to sell land to the University.

Previous Coverage: Ex-SC State Trustee Indicted

According to federal prosecutors Wright, Williams and Mims obtained a million dollar grant from the SC Department of Commerce for the Softee Supremes plant. The three are accused of keeping some of the money. They were also involved in the Village at River's Edge in Columbia where federal prosecutors say Mims siphoned money from a federal grant intended for construction costs. Investigators also say the group gave a municipal employee a "kickback" payment for efforts involving the project.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin has ties to the Village at River's Edge development, but sold his stake before becoming the city's mayor. Benjamin is listed on at least one federal lawsuit involving the development.  

Wright, Williams, and Mims have agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, but prosecutors outside the Charleston hearing refused to answer questions about what cases the three may have information on.

The three men could be sentenced up to 30 years in jail on the bank fraud charges and 5 years on the conspiracy charges. The judge set $10,000 PR bonds for all three. 


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