Partners-Turned-Enemies in Pinson Trial


By Monique Williams

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) -- Business partners have become enemies in the case of a former University trustee board chairman accused of taking kickbacks.

Today Florida real estate developer Richard Zahn continued his testimony against former friend and business associate, Jonathan Pinson, who is on trial accused of taking bribes while employed at the South Carolina State University. For more than three hours the prosecution and the defense grilled Zahn about deals he reportedly made with Pinson. At the center of the debate is a Porsche Cayenne and whether it was a pay off or a kick back.

Zahn told prosecutors he was to make sure Pinson received the car, pending the University's $2.8 million dollar purchase of Zahn's sprawling ranch in Orangeburg, called the Sportsman's Retreat.

Pinson can be heard on phone recordings telling Zahn, "You just help me get that Cayenne baby!" On another recording he says to Zahn, "You got the fire and I got the political connections and desire."
Zahn says he believed Pinson was knowledgeable about real estate deals and offered to reward Pinson with the $90, 000 - $115,000 ride.

However, the defense portrayed Zahn, a convicted felon who is testifying in this case as part of a plea deal, as a con man who lied about his experience and educational background and tried to take advantage of Pinson.
During cross examination, Zahn admitted in court that he was "manipulating Pinson," that he never intended to give Pinson a car, and and that he was a businessman who regularly
"talked crap." Zahn also admitted that conversations about the Porsche took place in reference to a different real estate deal prior to talks about the sale of the sportsmans retreat to South Carolina State University.

When asked if Pinson would take the stand, Jim Griffin, Pinson's attorney, said, "You never make that decision until the very last minute."
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