Pinson is accused in connection with his role as chairman of the board of
Deliberations in the complex case began about
Norton gave the case to the jury at
Just a few minutes into deliberations, one juror told the judge she felt ill. Judge
Earlier Monday, Norton provided more than an hour of legal instruction about complex federal law jurors must apply in the two-week trial that produced hours of tape-recorded conversations and reams of bank transactions.
"The next U.S. Attorney who does an indictment like that is going to jail," Norton joked Monday morning while the jury was out of Courtroom I.
Pinson and fellow
The instructions to the jury were so long that after an hour and 15 minutes, Norton gave jurors a 15-minute break
"I'm tired," Norton said after explaining the law on "conspiracy," "racketeering," "bank fraud" and "wire fraud," all of which are part of the indictment in the corruption case.
Evidence against Pinson and Robinson is so voluminous and complex that the prosecution provided the jury with a disputed 75-page summary to serve as a roadmap to the government's case.
Jurors have to sort through about 200 government exhibits, including some five boxes of bank accounts, wire transfers and many other documents, in addition to two weeks of testimony and 118 mobile phone conversations intercepted by the
The case went to the jury after impassioned closing arguments Friday by lawyers on both sides.
Prosecutors characterized Pinson and Robinson as money-grubbers who took advantage of lower- to moderate-income people in
Pinson is on trial for numerous charges, including using his public position for personal gain. Robinson, who is not a public official, faces similar but fewer related charges.
Defense lawyers argued that the government was diverted to Pinson by co-defendant
Defense attorneys fought to keep the detailed summary of the evidence away from jurors. But the judge allowed the document to go into the jury room as a guide, not evidence in and of itself.
The recorded conversations used in court were from among 15,000 wire tapped calls intercepted by the
Robinson's attorney mocked the prosecution's case Friday, saying the co-defendant would have had to be the "great and powerful Oz" to pull off the schemes the government says Robinson committed.
Pinson and Robinson did not offer any witnesses to bolster their defenses. Their lawyers declared the government had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and asked Norton to dismiss the entire indictment.
Norton -- after listening to extended legal arguments Thursday on a critical question of whether Pinson met the state law definition of a public official -- decided the fate of the two former roommates at S.C. State is up to the jury.
Prosecutors have alleged money-making schemes at
The verdict is the climax of a high-profile trial that caught the attention of people in
Since the trial started on
Other evidence came from the testimony of five people who had pleaded guilty in the case and who took the stand to tell what they knew about Pinson's and Robinson's dealings. Those witnesses included a rogue cop, a crooked lawyer and an informant who allowed himself to be miked up on
The jury heard undisputed testimony, which came in the trial's first week, that
Zahn testified he paid the two women about
Earlier this year, Zahn pleaded guilty to being part of a kickback scheme in which he hoped to sell the 121-acre Sportsman's Retreat to
Trial testimony also illustrated the perils of corruption, and how a decision to go along with a crooked scheme instead of resigning one's post can ruin careers and lives.
That peril was shown in the testimony of
In it, he said he went along with a scheme he said Pinson thought up because he -- Givens -- did not want to disagree with Pinson, his boss, as chairman of the university's board at the time. It was clear the scheme was dishonest, and could cost him his law license and a stint in prison.
Givens' law license has been suspended. He will be sentenced later, as will the other defendants who have pleaded guilty in hopes of getting probation rather than prison sentences.
Givens, a minister's son, was once a rising legal star who worked for the McNair Law Firm.
(c)2014 The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Visit The State (Columbia, S.C.) at www.thestate.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services