The witness, Dr.
Pinson, at that time chairman of the board of
They were in
Any testimony about Smith's
Exactly what prosecutors are trying to accomplish by putting Benjamin's name -- the mayor has been repeatedly mentioned so far in the three-day trial -- often before the jury isn't known.
Benjamin's lawyer and spokesman had no immediate comment Wednesday.
As Smith began testifying late Wednesday afternoon about his 2010 jet trip to
At first, Smith's testimony -- elicited by assistant U.S. attorney
At that time, Smith told the jury, he was vice president of student affairs and executive director of a university foundation. As such, he was on the lookout for donors who might fund scholarships.
"(University police chief)
The friend was Zahn, a
To his surprise, when he and Bartley got to the airport, Pinson and Benjamin and Zahn were there, and the five of them, with the pilot, flew to
When they got there, they were met by Zahn's limousine, checked into a hotel and then went out to "a very nice restaurant," Smith testified.
Smith testified he had hoped to sit next to Zahn during supper, but Zahn, Pinson, Benjamin and Bartley all sat at a far end of the table, leaving Smith to chat with two of Zahn's assistants, with whom he made small talk.
Afterward, the limousine took Zahn, Pinson, Bartley, Benjamin and Smith to a club, he testified.
"It looked like a regular dance club, but then it turned out to be a stripper club," Smith testified.
While they were there, Bartley turned to him and gave him a "small pack of"
Later, when they left, "two young ladies from the strip club" went with them. The women entered the hotel with the men, Smith testified.
Smith went to his room, intending to sleep, but Bartley soon knocked on his door, saying, "Come on upstairs so we can check on the guys," Smith testified.
Smith and Bartley went upstairs, where they saw Zahn, Pinson and Benjamin in a room.
"Was anyone else in the room?" Wicker asked Smith.
"Two young ladies," Smith replied.
Wicker did not ask Smith for any details about what else he saw.
During his overnight stay in
"Did you ever get a chance to talk to
"No," replied Smith.
Wicker: "What did
Smith: "He said Chairman Pinson wanted me to tell you if anybody asks you, to say they were never on the trip."
Asked if Zahn ever donated any money to
Smith's testimony about the strip club visit was allowed to be heard by the jury despite objections from Pinson's defense attorney,
Earlier Wednesday, former S.C. State University general counsel and chief of staff
Givens, a star prosecution witness who as an S.C. State insider had a close association with Pinson, pleaded guilty in May to misprision of a felony, or knowing about an illegal act. Givens agreed to tell all he knows in return for a recommendation from prosecutors that he not get any prison time. After he pleaded guilty, the state
On Wednesday, Givens came in for a withering cross-examination by defense attorney
Kent asked Givens why did what he did -- repeatedly taking part in helping Pinson develop kickback schemes for himself.
"It was a mistake on my part to not think about how severe the consequences might be," Givens replied, saying that he and Pinson would have gotten money as kickbacks from university vendors, and that wouldn't have been considered university money. "I rationalized. ... It was a terrible decision on my part."
While Givens testified under Kent's questioning that "I take full responsibility," Givens also said, "I can't take the entire blame for what happened because none of those situations were created by me."
Pinson, the board chairman, was the one who thought up the schemes and Givens, as the university's lawyer, had to go along with them, Givens testified. "These things were brought to me by the chairman of the board, who is my ultimate supervisor."
"So you're the victim, huh?" Kent said sarcastically.
Givens then told Kent, "You don't understand the culture. Getting sideways and getting crossways and not being in cahoots with the chairman of the board is a death blow to your career at S.C. State."
Kent said, "No, I don't understand the culture, and neither would
That's where Kent ended his cross-examination -- with an assertion by Givens that Kent can use to argue to the jury that Givens said, in effect, that Robinson "had nothing to do with this."
The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.
The schemes involve violations of federal law at
Also testifying Wednesday was former S.C. State director of student life and leadership
Answering questions from prosecutor Wicker, Adderson told the jury that in 2010, Givens had tried to get her and students to change promoters for a homecoming event that year.
Earlier, the jurors heard testimony from Givens that Pinson had wanted him to get Adderson and the students to change the promoter. The new promoter,
But in that case, the students were angered that an administrator was trying to change the homecoming promoter, and Pinson's associates weren't hired.
One of the two partners in WE was Robinson.
Witnesses scheduled are expected tomorrow to discuss a Pinson scheme to use federal money to bring a diaper plant to
Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.
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