AP NEWS

Ex-South Carolina prosecutor to plead guilty to wire fraud

February 25, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A former South Carolina prosecutor facing dozens of federal charges related to the misspending of public funds is expected to enter a guilty plea.

Dan Johnson is slated to plead guilty to wire fraud during a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Columbia, according to court documents and a release from federal prosecutors Monday. The charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

An attorney for Johnson didn’t immediately return an email message seeking comment on the plea.

Last year, federal prosecutors outlined more than two dozen charges against Johnson related to the misspending of public funds on trips to foreign destinations, including the Netherlands and the Galapagos Islands.

State and federal authorities had been investigating the travel and spending habits of Johnson, who logged more than 70 days of travel over a period of less than two years. The trips were reflected in credit card bills and receipts released by a nonprofit that obtained them through open-records laws.

Days after Johnson’s federal indictment, Attorney General Alan Wilson announced state charges against Johnson, whose jurisdiction includes Richland and Kershaw counties, along with the state’s capital city of Columbia, including embezzlement and misconduct in office. Office workers were subsequently photographed removing Johnson’s name from the walls of his office suite.

Prosecutors said the money was taken from state and federal accounts holding assets forfeited by defendants in illegal drug cases. In November, more federal charges were added, including an allegation thaat Johnson, an Air National Guard member, embezzled more than $7,000 in Guard funds by accepting reimbursements for travel and lodging expenses he didn’t personally cover.

Johnson was suspended from office following his federal indictment and subsequently lost a re-election bid.

A communications director and top aide to Johnson was charged alongside him and had agreed to testify against her boss. Late last year, Holland pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud charges after prosecutors said she charged a bill from a hotel and one from an orthodontist to a government credit card.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.