COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Suspended 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson made his first court appearance Thursday.
Johnson was indicted on state charges of embezzlement and misconduct in office, according to Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Johnson and Holland both pleaded not guilty to the charges included in the indictment on Tuesday.
During court proceedings on Thursday, Johnson was released on a $25,000 bond. His top aide, Nicole Holland, surrendered her passport during the proceedings and was also given a $25,000 bond.
Governor Henry McMaster suspended Johnson after he was indicted on federal charges related to an audit released in August detailing tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer dollars. The audit, conducted by the Forensic Research Group, found Johnson and his top aid Nicole Johnson charged more than $43,000 in personal expenses to the solicitor’s office over the course of two years.
In particular, the audit found Johnson charged $25,036 in personal and military expenses over a two-year period. The audit outlined exotic vacations, lavish parties and luxuries purchased by Johnson and charged to his office. The audit also says as of April, Johnson had paid back nearly $16,000. However, in a letter accompanying the audit, Johnson said he has paid back the entire sum.
Holland was found to have spent $18,733 on things such as airfare and hotels and a FitBit in that same two-year period. The audit also detailed that from 2011 through 2018, she spent more than $62,000 on expenses at Target, The Dollar Store and Walmart.
No policies were found to be in place to control office spending and no limits were found to be put in place.
Both Holland and Johnson declined to speak on camera regarding the charges. Johnson also faces nearly two dozen federal charges related to wire fraud and theft of government funds. He will be arraigned on the federal charges on Tuesday.