Mayor Benjamin Releases Statement Following Pinson Verdict

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By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- (WOLO) Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin seeks to clear his own name in the aftermath of his friend and former business partner, Jonathan Pinson, being convicted of federal public corruption.

A few hours after the verdict was handed down, Benjamin released statement saying: "We have the Pinson family in our thoughts and prayers. As you are aware, I have withheld all comment while this difficult matter was before the court.

As it has been reported accurately over the past few weeks, I have not been charged with any criminal offenses. Now that a verdict has been rendered, it needs to be made clear that I have done nothing illegal.

My ownership interest in the Village at Rivers Edge terminated in August of 2009 and, after that date, I no longer maintained any role in the management of the project. Furthermore, after my election as Mayor in April of 2010, I conflicted myself out of all decisions directly or indirectly related to the project. This position is well documented at the City of Columbia.

There were two matters reported by the media that need to be addressed. First, it has been reported that the South Carolina State Ethics Commission has inquired about a one day business trip to Orlando that was not related in any way to City of Columbia business. We have met with the Ethics Commission and are confident that after a thorough review of all of the facts, they will determine that it was a personal business trip and as such, not a matter to be reported.

Second, I regret being present for certain aspects of the previously referenced trip. I should have used better judgment. However to be clear, I did not at any time engage in any illegal activity while in Orlando.

As a family we are stronger than ever and we remain in prayer for our friends, and the City we love. We wish all a safe and peaceful holiday weekend."

Ex-South Carolina State University Trustee Jonathan Pinson
was found guilty of 29 of 45 charges in a federal corruption case.

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