Former SC State board member, two others plead guilty to fraud - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Former SC State board member, two others plead guilty to fraud

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CHARLESTON, SC (WIS) -

Three people, including a former Board of Trustees member at South Carolina State University, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Wednesday afternoon.

Ex-board member Lance Wright, Robert Williams, and Phillip Mims all pleaded guilty in federal court on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy.

According to the US Attorney's Office, all three were business partners and took state and federal money from grants and loans to operate and build businesses.

The FBI said all three were involved with a Marion County diaper plant, the Village at River's Edge in Columbia, and St. Andrews Medical Center.

"All three of these defendants agreed to cooperate," said Assistant US Attorney Mark Moore. "They agreed to tell the government everything they know about any type of illegal activity and provide assistance with respect to that by talking to us and providing books, documents or other items that is in their plea agreements and that's what they're required to do."

Prosecutors say Wright started working with the FBI in 2009, the same time he served on the board at SC State.

Wright admitted he was also part of a kickback scheme in a diaper company based in Marion County.

Prosecutors say Wright and his co-defendants all sent Marion County fake invoices and the county paid them $80,000. Wright and William received $10,000.

The men also admitted to cutting themselves checks from a grant through the Columbia Housing Authority on a development project, The Village at River's Edge.

 "Obviously Marion County is a victim, the Columbia Housing Authority and the federal government which loaned the Columbia Housing Authority money is also a victim and given that it's government funds...the citizens of Marion County, the citizens of the federal government and the citizens who were served by the Columbia Housing Authority could also be characterized as victims," Moore said.      

All three refused comment as they left court.

Wright, Williams, and Mims face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1 million in fines. All three are free on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

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