Jury selection began Thursday in the racketeering and fraud trial of former South Carolina State University board of trustees chairman Jonathan Pinson.
The process comes one day after prosecutors agreed to drop four charges against Pinson, but plan to proceed with dozens more when his trial starts on Monday.
Pinson is accused of trying to arrange kickbacks for university contracts on a homecoming concert and a land deal. Six people have already pleaded guilty for their roles in a failed deal to acquire the “Sportsman’s Retreat” property, including a Florida developer who admitted promising Pinson a Porsche SUV as a thank-you gift.
An indictment against Pinson unsealed last November also charged him with skimming more than $60,000 from a Columbia housing project and bribing a city employee to help secure the contract.
Federal prosecutors say they are seeking up to 22 years in prison if Pinson is found guilty. The prosecutors agreed to dismiss two counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering and one count of lying to investigators.
Pinson’s attorney Jim Griffin has previously said his client has “never ever taken a dime” to make a decision at S.C. State and that fellow defendants lied to federal investigators in order to receive lighter sentences.