Economist and Ex-Professor Pleads Guilty in S.C. to Defrauding Investors

An economist awaiting sentencing in federal court for defrauding investors of millions of dollars pleaded guilty Monday to a single state fraud count.

Al Parish, a former Charleston Southern University professor, told Circuit Court Judge James Barber he understood the charge and knew what he was doing.

Prosecutors will recommend that any sentence be served at the same time as Parish's federal sentence, said Assistant Attorney General Jason Peavy.

Parish pleaded guilty last year to several federal fraud charges as well as lying to investigators. He faces 30 years to life in prison on those charges and is expected to be sentenced in June.

Sentencing on the state charge, which carries 10 years, will likely follow the federal action, said his attorney, Andy Savage.

Documents filed last month by a court-appointed receiver estimated about 470 clients who invested with Parish lost $60 million to $80 million. Savage estimates the figure is closer to $50 million.

Savage said his client did not put all of that money to his own use.

"That figure is still a moving figure but it is going to be south of $10 million," Savage said.

Parish claimed amnesia when the investigation broke more than a year ago. A psychiatrist said then the condition was stress-induced. "That problem has mostly resolved," Savage told the judge.

Parish told the judge he is seeing a psychiatrist and is under treatment for a heart condition.

He had no comment for reporters when he left the courthouse.

"He's like any client I have. He's concerned about his future and the future of his family," Savage said later. "Every day is a new challenge and his immediate health concerns trump this."