Conviction of former Housing Authority chairman overturned

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Ernie Pitt (The Winston-Salem Journal)

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Ernie Pitt, the former chairman of the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem, had his 2009 conviction on two counts of mail fraud involving a land deal overturned Friday by a federal appeals court.

“Had the jury been properly instructed, the outcome would not merely have been different, but Pitt likely would have been found not guilty of the charges brought against him,” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond said in its ruling. “He instead was branded as a felon and is forced to endure ‘the official expression of society’s condemnation of his conduct.'”

Pitt has already done his time, which included 10 months in prison and three years of supervised probation, and paid about $90,000 in restitution and fines. The charges were related to a housing authority deal involving land that Pitt co-owned.

“He was happy,” said Chris Clifton, one of Pitt’s attorneys, about his client’s reaction to the news. “He was thrilled.”

Pitt, who is the publisher of the Winston-Salem Chronicle, did not return a message left at his office Friday.

This article was written by Michael Hewlett and originally published by The Winston-Salem Journal. Click here to read the full story.

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