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Dan Johnson Pleads Guilty

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Former South Carolina fifth circuit solicitor Dan Johnson pleaded guilty in federal court this week to wire fraud, according to a release from the office of U.S. attorney Sherri Lydon.

Johnson, 48, admitted in his plea deal to using funds from his office “to cover personal and non-office related expenses.”

Specifically, he acknowledged that a November 2016 payment made by Kershaw County – one of the governmental entities subsidizing his office budget – went toward “a series of personal and non-office related expenses” including hotel rooms and airline travel.

Johnson faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in the federal prison system (where there is no parole) and a fine of up to $250,000.  He will be sentenced on June 4, 2019, per the order of U.S. district court judge Cameron Currie.

“Today’s plea will go a long way in restoring the public’s confidence in our justice system,” Lydon said in a statement.  “The law comes in one size, and one size fits all.  It fits the rich man and the poor man.  It fits the citizen and the elected official.  It fits the prosecuted and the prosecutor, and it certainly fits Dan Johnson.”

Indeed …

Johnson’s problems began a year ago in the wake of a dispute with influential Columbia, S.C. attorney (and recently elected state senator) Dick Harpootlian.  Last February, Harpootlian’s group – Public Access to Public Records (PAPR) – released voluminous records exposing questionable payments within the solicitor’s office.

These documents detailed taxpayer-funded expenditures on swanky parties, cab and Uber rides, club and gym memberships and hotel rooms all over the world.

Johnson and his former aide, Nicole Holland, have both been indicted at the federal and state level on charges related to misappropriated funds and efforts to cover up the expenses.  Earlier this week, in fact, both were hit with fresh indictments at the state level.

Johnson was elected in 2010 and reelected four years later.  His stunning fall from grace was one of the biggest news stories of 2018 … prompting a flood of media coverage all across the state.

Among the bombshells to drop?  The release of a 2011 report prepared by investigators of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) that analyzed Johnson’s toxic, tortured relationship with his ex-wife – Kana Rahman.

Johnson probably should have faced charges in connection with that case, but Rahman recanted her testimony against him.

Prior to being indicted and suspended last fall, Johnson lost his bid for reelection as solicitor.  Columbia, S.C. attorney Byron Gipson eviscerated him in the Democratic primary for the fifth circuit solicitor’s post last June – and went on to defeat petition candidate John Meadors in the general election last November.

Stay tuned … in addition to Johnson’s federal sentencing, we will continue to follow the state case against him as well as any additional charges that may be brought against him and other defendants.

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