Crime & Courts

Zahn sentencing hearing, set for today, delayed again

Richard Zahn
Richard Zahn File Photo

A sentencing hearing for Florida developer Richard Zahn, the last defendant to be sentenced in the Jonathan Pinson racketeering scandal, will be held on Sept. 28.

Zahn had been scheduled to be sentenced today in Charleston by U.S. Judge David Norton.

Zahn was a participant in one of three separate schemes that were part of a highly publicized, wide-ranging public corruption case in South Carolina. In Zahn's case, he pleaded guilty to federal charges involving the attempted bribery of the S.C. State University police chief, Michael Bartley, and the university's former board chair, Jonathan Pinson.

In all, eight defendants were convicted, either by pleading guilty or trial.

All but Zahn have been sentenced. All but Pinson became government witnesses and got off with no prison.

Because of Zahn’s cooperation, the government has agreed that a sentence of three years probation is appropriate, according to public court records. Zahn was charged with wire fraud and attempted bribery.

Last summer, Pinson was convicted of racketeering and other charges by a federal jury after a two-week trial. He is now appealing to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

During Pinson’s trial, Zahn provided much of the most sensational testimony.

On the witness stand for hours, Zahn told the jury about a secret 2010 trip in which he flew Pinson, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and others to Orlando, wined and dined them.

Zahn also testified he paid about $1,000 to two young women who worked at an Orlando strip club to visit Pinson, Benjamin and Zahn in a hotel room there.

He also said he had promised Pinson a $90,000 Porsche Cayenne SUV for his help in selling a 121-acre tract to S.C. State for $2.8 million.

Secret FBI wiretaps of Pinson’s and Zahn’s telephone calls made it impossible for Zahn to deny the Porsche attempted bribery allegation.

Moreover, former S.C. State chief of police Michael Bartley, told the jury how he was going to get $30,000 for helping arrange a proposed land deal between Zahn and S.C. State University. Bartley, who was also convicted and got probation, testified that Pinson told him to lie if anyone ever asked him whether Benjamin had gone to Florida and visited a strip club.