The Buzz

December 18, 2013

POLITICS: Attorney -- Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was original target of FBI

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and former city employee Tony Lawton were among the original targets of what has become a broad federal public corruption investigation, a defense attorney said in federal court here Wednesday.

Attorney Jim Griffin of Columbia said the FBI improperly redirected its case toward his client, Greenville businessman Jonathan Pinson, making the evidence gathered about Pinson illegal because it was gained through wiretaps aimed at Benjamin and Lawton and the city of Columbia.

Griffin said that wiretaps that captured Pinson's cell phone conversations exceeded the authority of the judge’s approval because the investigation was aimed at possible corruption in Columbia city government.

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