by Karen Phillips


A legal mess for the Chronicle’s Publisher

Ernie Pitt, publisher of the Winston-Salem Chronicle, is still not in the clear when it comes to his recent legal issues. While a federal judge ruled on Monday that Pitt was entitled to recoup the $90,000 he paid in fines and fees before his conviction was overturned, federal prosecutors plan on retrying Pitt in early February on the two counts of mail fraud for which he was originally tried.

Pitt was accused of having a conflict of interest in selling land to the Housing Authority of Winston- Salem of which he was the former chairman. After he completed his sentence, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. overturned Pitt’s conviction saying that the jury had received misinformation, and Pitt’s criminal charges were overturned. The housing authority is required to give Pitt back $84,000 by Dec. 20, and the clerk of US District Court for the Middle District of NC will reimburse the remaining $6,200 he paid in fines.

So after serving time and dealing with probation, Pitt still has this issue lingering in his future. How does this fare for the publisher of a newspaper? What mess will continue to unfold for him during the retrial, and will the second outcome be as successful as the first?