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Lawyer admits failing to report homecoming kickback scheme; he allegedly gave his cut to charity

Posted May 14, 2014 6:49 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A former lawyer for South Carolina State University has pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony for failing to report a homecoming kickback scheme.

Edwin Givens, the university’s former general counsel and chief of staff, pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday, report the Post and Courier and the Times and Democrat. Givens, 50, faces a sentence of up to three years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Givens agreed to steer an entertainment contract for the school’s homecoming dance to a company operated by a close friend of then-South Carolina State board chairman Jonathan Pinson, who has pleaded not guilty in the case. Authorities say they discovered the scheme in a wiretap of Pinson.

Givens received $500 in the scheme and donated it to the South Carolina Educational Foundation, prosecutors say.

In a statement provided to the newspapers, Givens said a school official had accused him of cooperating with authorities in a previous matter and threatened to fire him as a result. “While it is no excuse for not reporting the illegal activity,” Givens said, “I allowed this and other threats of retaliation to cloud my judgment.”

“It is important to stress that I never profited in any way for these illegal activities,” he said in the statement. “Not one single dime.”

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