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Zahn Pleads Guilty in SC State Corruption Case

5:48 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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Charleston, SC (WLTX)- A Florida developer has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit honest service wire fraud by providing illegal bribes and kickbacks to public officials.

Richard Zahn was in Charleston Federal Court on Friday. Prosecutor Nancy Wicker from the U.S. Attorney's office spoke with News19 after court.

"From the FBI's standpoint and the U.S. Attorney's office, we are very pleased Mr. Zahn has accepted responsibility for his actions."

Prosecutors say the Longwood, Fla. developer owned land near the Orangeburg school and asked trustee Jonathan Pinson to help him sell it to the university.

"When he went to Orangeburg, he did  that with the intent to help SCSU," said Zahn's attorney, Andy Savage. "He had no idea the culture of corruption that existed at South Carolina State University."

Zahn owns a 120-acre property in Orangeburg County known as "Sportsman's Retreat".

In exchange for helping in the land scheme, prosecutors say Zahn told Pinson he would buy him a nearly $100,000 Porsche SUV.

"He didn't ask for the assistance of money. You heard the facts today, it became a cost of doing business. If he wanted to do business there it was expected because it was the culture of community there," said Savage.  

Pinson was arraigned last month on a federal kickback charge. Pinson's lawyers maintain he is innocent.

South Carolina State's former campus police chief has already pleaded guilty in the case.

Zahn is free on bond until he's sentenced later. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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