Ex-SC State board member, 2 others plead guilty

      File Photo (WCIV)

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Three men, including a former South Carolina State University board member, have pleaded guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy.

      Phillip Mims, Robert A. Williams and Lance Wright pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Charleston. They will be sentenced later and face punishments of up to 35 years in prison.

      Wright resigned from the board of the Orangeburg school in May 2012, citing personal reasons. Prosecutors say he, Mims and Williams partnered on business deals and used loans to pay off other expenses, not their intended projects.

      One of the projects was a medical center in St. Andrews. The group applied for loans to build the center but instead used the money to pay off other loans.

      In another instance, Mims was supposed to head up a revitalization project at a Columbia apartment complex. The three even received federal funding for the project, but instead of rebuilding the facility the money was used for kickbacks.

      The loans were procured through falsified documents, prosecutors showed.

      Federal prosecutors wouldn't say if the charges are connected to a probe centering on former S.C. State board chairman Jonathan Pinson. Prosecutors say Pinson tried to get the university to buy land from a Florida developer in exchange for a Porsche SUV.

      White will not face any prison time for his cooperation in the case, but will have to pay back restitution.

      Mims and Williams face decades in prison and more than $1 million in fines if the full sentence is levied against them.


      Bruce Smith contributed from Charleston. Meg Kinnard contributed from Columbia. Kinnard can be reached at

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