73
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      Sunday
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      Mayor Benjamin: ??I have done nothing illegal??

      <p>Mayor Steve Benjamin speaking, out after the verdict is read in the Jonathan Pinson federal trial.</p>

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin broke his silence Thursday, hours after a former business associate was found guilty of more than two dozen charges in federal court.

      Benjamin's name came up multiple times during the almost three week trial of former SC State Trustee Jonathan Pinson.

      ??As has been reported accurately over the past few weeks, I have not been charged with any criminal offenses. Now that a verdict has been rendered, it needs to be made clear that I have done nothing illegal," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

      During the trial several witnesses linking the mayor to a wild night of partying in Florida to help close a business deal back in 2010.

      In testimony several witnesses testified in December of 2010, Benjamin, Pinson, a Florida businessman and South Carolina State Officials went to a strip club and brought women back to their hotel room.

      Last month, Benjamin said it wouldn't be appropriate to comment during the course of the trial.

      "I regret being present for certain aspects of the previously referenced trip. I should have used better judgment. However to be clear, I did not at any time engage in any illegal activity while in Orlando," said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

      Benjamin also responding to questions during the trial about his ownership in a business development involving Pinson.

      ??My ownership interest in the Village at Rivers Edge terminated in August of 2009 and, after that date, I no longer maintained any role in the management of the project. Furthermore, after my election as Mayor in April of 2010, I conflicted myself out of all decisions directly or indirectly related to the project. This position is well documented at the City of Columbia," adds Benjamin.

      Benjamin said the Pinson family will remain in their thoughts and prayers.

      "I have not been charged with any criminal offenses. Now that a verdict has been rendered, it needs to be made clear that I have done nothing illegal," said Benjamin.