A criminal investigation into the alleged embezzlement of tens of thousands of tax dollars from the Union county sheriff’s office took a bizarre turn when the focus of the inquiry committed suicide nearly two years ago.
Contained within the pages of the dead woman’s diary? Shocking allegations against her employer, a third-term local law man who has landed in hot water before for risqué behavior.
The latest scandal in Union county – which is home to an estimated 30,000 people in the Palmetto State’s piedmont region – is yet another instance in which a South Carolina sheriff has clearly abused the public trust in discharging his official duties, adding another chapter to a lengthening list of lawlessness and and lurid behavior by locally elected lawmen.
The Union investigation – conducted by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – did not yield criminal charges after a review by a Lowcountry solicitor. That is not surprising, though, considering the one individual implicated in the alleged embezzlement scheme – Kimberly Riddle Bailey – took her own life before the inquiry could be completed.
However, its seismic revelations could – and we believe should – lead to calls for the resignation of David Taylor, a Democrat who was first elected to his post back in 2008.
The Union investigation began in February of 2018 when Taylor notified the statewide agency “after it was discovered that money raised during a fundraiser” for the office’s special response team was “missing.” Taylor also asked for SLED to probe deposits into his office’s drug seizure account.
Upon initiating this investigation, SLED found numerous discrepancies in multiple accounts – including an estimated $76,000 missing from a sex offender registry account and $50,000 from a drug seizure account that was “unaccounted for,” according to an investigative report obtained by this news outlet under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Suspicion regarding these missing funds soon centered around Bailey – who was hired by Taylor in January of 2009 as his administrative assistant with control over all office accounts (and in possession of a stamp with his signature). On February 22, 2018, SLED interviewed Bailey – who admitted to taking money from the sex offender registry fund “for personal use.”
Questioned extensively about other accounts at the sheriff’s office, Bailey acknowledged cashing some checks inappropriately but denied other allegations of embezzlement/ misappropriation. She insisted that on multiple occasions since being hired at the sheriff’s office, Taylor had asked her to use her personal credit card to pay for office expenses – including “travel for extraditions, hotels for travel and training, rental cars, and any other expenses for out of town travel.”
(Click to view)
Bailey (above) told investigators Taylor instructed her to “use her personal card because the county did not have a card to use.”
During agents’ extensive questioning about financial matters, Bailey volunteered some exceedingly interesting information related to the sheriff.
According to the SLED report, Bailey told them “Sheriff Taylor … engaged in extramarital affairs” and “on one occasion … called her into his office, pulled his pants down, and made a comment about how much weight he had lost.”
Wait … what?
“He did not expose himself to her and his underwear covered his genitals,” the report continued.
Nearly two months into the investigation, on March 27, 2018, Bailey was found deceased in her home with a gunshot wound to the head. We referenced this incident (and its proximity to an ongoing SLED investigation) in this article published on March 27, 2018. After being duly informed of the notification of next-of-kin, we identified Bailey in this update published the following day, March 28, 2018.
SLED investigated Bailey’s death – which was ruled a suicide. During that inquiry, its agents discovered a journal detailing her private thoughts related to the embezzlement probe.
“What have I done??? Disappointment!” Bailey noted in an entry from February 22 (the day she was questioned by SLED). “That’s the first word that comes to mind. Stupid-selfish-greed!! And for what? Nothing!!”
“I hope that one day people can see past all the bad I have done and remember some of the good,” she continued. “I’m not a bad person. I don’t have a bad heart. I just made a mistake. A terrible mistake that I can’t fix or take back.”
An entry dated two weeks later – on March 7, 2018 – revealed the extent to which the pressure of the ongoing investigation was getting to her.
“I am tired of all this lying I have been doing,” it noted. “Everyday my guilt gets heavier and heavier to bear. I hurt. (My) heart hurts, my brain hurts, my whole body hurts with pain and guilt. I love everyone so much and I can’t bear the hurt I have or will cause them when the truth comes out.”
Ten days later she wrote “there is no perfect timing to get caught and yes I am guilty.”
“Why did I do this at all,” she wondered to herself in the March 17 journal entry.
As agents reviewed the journal notes in connection with the fiscal irregularities, they stumbled upon … other content. Specifically, they began to look into allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct and reports of inebriation in the workplace against sheriff Taylor.
FITSNews readers will recall that Taylor was accused in 2016 of sexually explicit conduct, which he dismissed at the time as a “political ploy” against him during his reelection bid. Union county voters agreed – and overwhelmingly reelected him to his post.
They may not be similarly inclined in 2020 …
Bailey’s diary documented some of Taylor’s alleged behavior in graphic terms. In one entry, she claimed Taylor was “drunk” and texted her “about his homosexual black relationships.” She also claimed he told her he was having an ongoing affair with a female and “not to tell his wife.”
At this point in the investigation, SLED’s report noted that the agency “was notified of several allegations concerning possible misconduct in office by Sheriff Taylor.”
These allegations were investigated along with the financial issues.
As this secondary phase of the inquiry began, SLED interviewed major Robbie Hines of the sheriff’s office. Hines claimed to have “observed sexually explicit messages and a penis image on a county issued cell phone that was previously utilized by Sheriff Taylor.”
The phone in question was obtained by Hines in connection with his official role as the manager of cell phones for the office (which are replaced every year). Deputies were supposed to restore their old phones to their factory settings before turning them in, but Taylor had failed to do so.
The penis image in question (which SLED recovered from the county-issued phone) was exchanged between Taylor and a female deputy who had reportedly “threatened to quit” in 2014 because she “couldn’t continue to work under these conditions that the Sheriff was doing.”
What conditions? The SLED report does not specify, but from this point the floodgates of incriminating information involving Taylor opened …
(Click to view)
(Via: Union County Sheriff’s Office)
Hines recalled a host of allegations made against Taylor (above), including excessive drinking on the job, sexual relations with multiple male and female subordinates and rumors of a potential blackmail plot against him by another major in the office, John Sherfield.
Hines also claimed that in 2015 or 2016, a male deputy showed him a text message allegedly sent by Taylor that contained a graphic sexual request.
“I want to f*ck you until you bleed black c*m,” the message allegedly stated.
Dozens of other messages allegedly sent by Taylor featuring similarly graphic content were obtained during the course of the investigation.
A forensic review of Taylor’s old Union county phone revealed “numerous sexually explicit messages” with the female deputy who had previously threatened to quit – identified by investigators as Wendy Childers – as well “numerous sexually explicit messages” with another female named Julie Gallman who was allegedly having an affair with Taylor.
Also on the phone was a message sent from Taylor to a male deputy asking whether or not the officer was “ready to f*ck.”
Childers denied having a sexual affair with the sheriff, however SLED investigators concluded in their report that “it appeared that they had engaged in a sexual relationship.”
Numerous other deputies interviewed by SLED recalled receiving strange messages from Taylor that they did not believe were intended for them.
“Hey baby, I miss you,” one of the messages from Taylor read.
Another far more graphic message from Taylor – which referenced “black c*m” – was reportedly received by a male deputy “around midnight or later” one evening. Moments later, however, the sheriff texted the deputy telling them to “disregard that last text.”
All of the inappropriate messages obtained by SLED were sent from Taylor’s taxpayer-provided phone.
The SLED report is littered with references to these messages – as well as numerous references to deputies noticing the smell of alcohol on Taylor’s breath or “on his person” while he was conducting official county business.
As the investigation progressed, SLED interviewed former Union county deputy Randy Manus. According to statements provided to investigators, sometime in 2013 or 2014 Manus used a Union county government-issued phone to record Taylor “having sexual intercourse” with a female subordinate alleged to have been Gallman. This recording was never uncovered, however.
Manus further revealed that Taylor had sent him sexually explicit photographs of Gallman during the course of their relationship.
Additionally, Manus told investigators that his wife had engaged in “consensual sex acts” with Taylor in a Myrtle Beach, S.C. hotel room several years earlier and that his wife and Taylor “knew (Manus) was watching as he was in the same room.”
SLED’s investigation was forwarded last year to the office of S.C. ninth circuit solicitor Scarlett Wilson.
On September 30, 2019, Wilson informed SLED that she would not be seeking criminal charges against Taylor – indicating the investigative agency agreed with her assessment.
(Click to view)
“After reviewing your file and considering our many hours of discussion and debate, I do not recommend that your agency seek criminal charges against Sheriff Taylor, and I appreciate your agreement with this assessment,” Wilson (above) wrote. ” Likewise, my office will not seek direct indictments against him, nor would we prosecute him on these facts alone.”
“Certainly, your investigation revealed several flaws in the management of the Union County Sheriff’s Office,” Wilson continued. “On the other hand, your investigation completely cleared Sheriff Taylor of obtaining any personal financial benefit from this mismanagement.”
That is true … SLED’s investigation did exonerate Taylor as it related to the embezzlement allegations, however the gross mismanagement of public funds by his office is inexcusable.
Even more inexcusable? His conduct with multiple subordinates – and his improper use of taxpayer resources to conduct what was clearly personal “business.”
This news outlet has covered numerous law enforcement sex scandals over the years. As we have frequently noted, we tend to be far more understanding than the mainstream media when it comes to such consensual kink, however “our socially liberal views regarding promiscuity in the workplace do not extend to law enforcement officers who are on the clock (and on government property).”
“What officers choose to do with other consenting adults on their own time and in the privacy of their homes is none of our business, but when they clock in and come to work their job is to protect and serve – not sexually service each other,” we noted in response to one recent case.
We have also repeatedly opined that law enforcement leaders – or anyone who is in a supervisory position over others – should refrain from engaging in sexual relations or inappropriate sexual banter with them.
Furthermore, officers who are inebriated on duty deserve to be terminated – irrespective of their rank.
Stay tuned … we will update our readers as to any breaking developments in connection with the latest sheriff’s scandal to rock the Palmetto State.
UPDATE: Read the report here …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
SIGN UP …