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Fifth​ Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson speaks with supporters during a campaign event at Tin Roof in Columbia on March 14, 2017. Joseph Cranney/Staff

COLUMBIA — In his first year in office, 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson asked one of his office's investigators to place a tracking device on his former wife's car shortly before he confronted her and her boyfriend in a Columbia restaurant parking lot, according to newly release records.

The 2011 dispute led to a State Law Enforcement investigation into allegations that Johnson, the chief prosecutor in Richland and Kershaw counties, threatened to shoot the boyfriend, who is an FBI agent.

The revelations, contained in a SLED report released Thursday, come at a time when state and federal investigators are looking into how Johnson's office spent thousands of dollars in public money on a host of curious expenses, including out-of-state tripsclub memberships and payments to Johnson’s brother.

The S.C. Attorney General's office did not file charges in 2011 incident, citing the lack of a "prosecutable offense." The FBI agent, Mario Martin, showed deception on a lie detector test, according to the SLED report. Johnson recorded the short parking lot confrontation, which showed no threats, according to video footage released by investigators. 

The SLED documents detail the stormy courtship and marriage between Johnson and Columbia attorney Kana Rahman. She told SLED agents that Johnson cheated on her and, at one point, she stabbed him with a kitchen knife. She said they did not tell anyone what happened after a trip to the emergency room.

Rahman told agents that she started seeing Martin while she and Johnson were separated in 2010, but she also was working on trying to reconcile with her former husband. Before the restaurant incident, Rahman said her ex-husband confronted her and Martin at least once before and also surprised her at a park where she was going to meet Martin.

Campbell Streater, an investigator in the solicitor's office, told SLED agents that Johnson asked him to obtain a GPS tracker in 2011. Streater said he borrowed a tracker from his former partner in a private investigation firm. He said he did not know who the tracker was for until Johnson told him where to find the car. 

Streater said he showed Johnson how to monitor his ex-wife's car on a computer. Streater also removed and reattached the tracker at one point after making adjustments when it was not working correctly. Streater said he never tracked the car belonging to Rahman.

The tracker on Rahman's was discovered two days after the parking lot confrontation, according to the SLED report. It was not clear if Johnson used the tracker to find his wife in the restaurant lot.

Streater declined comment Thursday, saying he was told to refer questions to the solicitor's communications director, Nicole Holland. Neither Holland nor Johnson returned calls Thursday.

In interviews with SLED agents, Rahman appears conflicted about the men she cares about and, at one point, details how they could be hurt if she changed her story about the prosecutor threatening to shoot the FBI agent.

Martin, who had been a client of hers, might face punishment for defying an order from his FBI superiors to stay away from her before the restaurant confrontation, Rahman said. And while saying that "any politician that is (expletive) at home probably is a really good politician," she did not want to jeopardize Johnson's job.

"This is bigger than me," Rahman tells agents in an audio recording. "Dan does a great job for this county." 

A FBI spokesman declined to comment Thursday if Martin was disciplined after the incident with the Johnsons. Martin remains with the FBI, though he is not stationed in Columbia, the spokesman said.  

As the current investigation into Johnson's spending habits with office cash continues, the SLED records provide insight into how Johnson used public staff for a private issue early in his tenure.

Johnson filed last week to run for a third term as solicitor. He faces a challenger in the Democratic primary, Columbia attorney Byron Gipson.

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Columbia Bureau Chief

Shain runs The Post and Courier's team based in South Carolina's capital city. He was editor of Free Times and has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Charlotte, Columbia and Myrtle Beach.