Crime & Courts

David Aylor’s Death Sparks Federal Scrutiny

Late lawyer’s iPhone in the hands of U.S. attorney’s office, prompting “multiple lines of inquiry …”

Federal investigators and prosecutors are actively involved in a case tied to the death of a high-profile Lowcountry, South Carolina lawyer. Sources close to the probe indicate it could ripple “in multiple directions” – and possibly multiple independent investigations – based on discoveries gleaned from what they are describing as a “critical piece of evidence.”

What piece of evidence are our sources referring to?

First, some background: Back in February of this year, our media outlet exclusively reported on the involvement of fentanyl in the tragic New Year’s Day death of prominent Charleston, S.C. attorney David Aylor.

Aylor, 41, was found dead at his Charleston residence on Lowndes Point Drive at approximately 12:15 a.m. EST on January 2, 2023. Preliminary reports from the scene suggested he succumbed hours earlier to some sort of pulmonary aspiration involving emesis.

The lead investigative agency on the Aylor case is the Charleston, S.C. police department. However, according to multiple sources familiar with this ongoing (and expanding) inquiry the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has taken a lead role of late.

Other federal agencies may be getting involved in the case, too … albeit for other reasons.

First, though: The drugs …

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“He was killed by street fentanyl,” a source close to the probe told me, referring to a toxicology report for Aylor that showed this lethal drug in his system along with benzodiazepine (likely Valium) and alcohol.

Officially, Aylor’s cause of death was listed by Charleston County coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal in late February as “accidental” – attributable to “mixed drug toxicity.” As I reported in early February, “investigators have found no evidence at this point suggesting Aylor was specifically targeted with a laced narcotic.” No such evidence has since been found. Nor has it ever been suggested Aylor sought out a narcotic laced with fentanyl for recreational use.

Nor has it been suggested that he sought out any other drug for recreational use prior to his death, for that matter.

Still, federal authorities – who regularly participate in anti-drug operations with state and local law enforcement – have made identifying the source of the fentanyl that killed Aylor a top priority. To that end, early on in this investigation they took possession of an iPhone belonging to Aylor obtained from his residence at the time of his death.

The iPhone – originally collected by Charleston police – has reportedly been the source of significant trepidation for a host of powerful interests in the Palmetto State.

Why? Because it has become the central focus of what some are referring to as a scandal “bigger than Murdaugh,” a reference to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga this news outlet has covered so closely in recent years.

Such comparisons strikes this reporter as somewhat hyperbolic, however the current location of the device lends credence to the rumors.

(Click to View)

David Aylor (Facebook)

According to our sources, federal authorities have taken Aylor’s iPhone – which was unlocked early on during the course of the investigation – to the Florence, S.C. offices of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs. There, in coordination with a special master who has been tasked with safeguarding any attorney-client privileged communications – investigators and prosecutors have been meticulously combing through the contents of the device.

What they have uncovered has reportedly shocked them … spawning what one federal source referred to as “multiple lines of inquiry tied to the device.”

None of our sources would elaborate on the nature of these investigations – to say nothing of their potential targets.

A beloved member of the Charleston legal community, the investigation into Aylor’s death has created “political sensitivities” from the very beginning. Among them? How to handle follow-up interviews with several individuals reportedly on the scene when police arrived at Aylor’s home – including S.C. circuit court judge Bentley Price.

One of Aylor’s closest friends, Price is facing a tougher-than-expected reelection fight this coming year after being implicated in connection with some questionable sentences – and questionable pleas – in the S.C. ninth judicial circuit.

A heavily redacted Charleston police report from Aylor’s home indicated three men – aged 43, 45 and 46 – were present at his residence when first responders arrived. It is not clear whether judge Price was one of these individuals.

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RELATED | NATIONAL FENTANYL SURGE

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Federal officials declined to comment on the status of any Aylor-related investigations.

“We can’t speak to any of that now,” first assistant U.S. attorney Brook Andrews told me late Friday.

A political science graduate of the College of Charleston, Aylor put himself through law school at the University of South Carolina by working as a bartender at The Back Porch on Gervais Street in downtown Columbia, S.C.. Palmetto politicos are very familiar with this erstwhile establishment – which served as home base for the influential “Quinndom,” arguably the most powerful political empire the Palmetto State has ever seen.

In fact, Aylor briefly represented the patriarch of the “Quinndom” – veteran GOP strategist Richard Quinn– during the high-profile ProbeGate investigation into corruption at the S.C. State House.

Aylor clerked for powerful S.C. Senate majority leader Glenn McConnell as well as retired U.S. magistrate Robert Carr. He also worked for renowned Charleston criminal defense attorney Andy Savage. In 2009, he opened his own firm specializing in personal injury and driving under the influence (DUI) cases.

“He cared deeply for his employees and clients,” the firm’s former managing partner, Lindsay Funderburk Johnson, said in a statement released after his death. “He treated us all like family. David’s legacy of grit, hard work, and community focus remains and will continue to guide us.”

Count on this news outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the status of any Aylor-related investigations – as well as the ongoing effort to determine how he obtained the fentanyl that killed him.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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6 comments

wtaylor201828001 Top fan August 26, 2023 at 9:36 am

So what did they find on the phone?

Reply
Dr Faucius August 27, 2023 at 1:47 am

Nude pictures of Martha Stewart and Bread’s Greatest Hits

Reply
David Roady Top fan August 26, 2023 at 11:00 am

Go get ‘um Tiger!

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 26, 2023 at 2:56 pm

The financial crimes of Corey Fleming and Alex Murdaugh are NOT unprecedented or the worst in South Carolina history.
Here are SOME of Richard Jerome Breibart’s admitted financial crimes:
THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
In the Matter of Richard J. Breibart, Respondent.
Appellate Case No. 2015-001982
Opinion No. 27592
Submitted November 4, 2015 – Filed November 25, 2015
DISBARRED
Lesley M. Coggiola, Disciplinary Counsel, and C. Tex Davis, Jr., Senior Assistant Disciplinary Counsel, both of Columbia, for Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
Richard J. Breibart, of Lexington, pro se.
PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter, respondent and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) have entered into an Agreement for Discipline by Consent (Agreement) pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (RLDE) contained in Rule 413 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules (SCACR). In the Agreement, respondent admits misconduct and consents to disbarment with conditions. He requests the disbarment be imposed retroactively to June 1, 2012, the date of his interim suspension. In the Matter of Breibart, 398 S.C. 123, 727 S.E.2d 740 (2012). We accept the Agreement and disbar respondent from the practice of law in this state retroactively to the date of respondent’s interim suspension. We further impose the conditions as stated hereafter in this opinion. The facts, as set forth in the Agreement, are as follows.
Facts
Matter I
From January 1, 1993 through December 31, 2003, respondent performed legal services for or rendered legal advice to Client A on more than one occasion and, as a result, established an attorney/client relationship with Client A. Respondent engaged in business transactions with and/or received loans from Client A on more than one occasion while he was respondent’s client or a client of respondent’s law practice.
Matter II
Respondent self-reported that, from 1994 until 2002, he borrowed significant sums of monies from several clients. He admits that some of the loans were not transmitted in writing to the clients and/or the clients did not consent in writing to essential terms of the loan and respondent’s role in the transaction.
Matter III
In September 2012, respondent was indicted on ten (10) counts of mail fraud, extortion, and wire fraud. Respondent was charged with devising a scheme whereby he obtained money and property from his clients by false and fraudulent pretenses. The scheme with regard to some of respondent’s clients was as follows:
respondent would contact clients, former clients, or family members of former clients who had readily accessible money and inform them that the clients were in imminent danger of being arrested and/or of losing their money; he would instruct the clients or clients’ family members to transfer large sums of money to him to be deposited in his trust account for safekeeping or to ensure that the investigation would be closed; he encouraged the clients or clients’ family members to locate as much money as possible, including liquidating retirement accounts and asking family members for money; respondent would accept the funds from his clients or his clients’ family members and convert those funds to pay for expenses and obligations relating to his law firm, to himself personally, and to other clients.
There were never any civil actions or criminal investigations regarding the claims respondent made to his clients.
On August 12, 2013, respondent pled guilty to one count of mail fraud. On March 4, 2014, respondent was sentenced to sixty-three (63) months in the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons and to three (3) years of supervised release. In addition, respondent was ordered to begin repayment of restitution of $2,419,326.50 in monthly payments of $100 sixty (60) days after his release from prison.
Matter IV
Respondent represented Complainant’s son on state criminal charges. Respondent informed Complainant that he might be the target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in relation to the son’s criminal charges and, that, in addition to potential criminal charges, Complainant might be exposed to potential civil liability. Respondent instructed Complainant to liquidate and transfer all available funds to respondent to be held in his trust account for safekeeping. Complainant transferred $393,526.29 to respondent pursuant to respondent’s request.
Respondent accepted the funds from Complainant and converted those funds to pay expenses and obligations relating to his law firm, to respondent personally, and to other clients. Respondent represents he was contacted by the United States Attorney’s Office regarding the conduct of Complainant’s son and/or other family members, however, there was no formal federal investigation. Complainant filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection (Lawyers’ Fund) and was awarded $9,546.08.
Matter V
On or about October 2011, Client B retained respondent to represent him in a divorce action. At that time, respondent instructed Client B that his retainer fee would be $45,000. Respondent instructed Client B that it would also be in his best interests to transfer an additional $45,000 to respondent to make it more difficult for Client B’s wife to find and obtain the proceeds during the divorce. Client B wired $90,000 to respondent. At the time of respondent’s interim suspension, Client B’s funds were gone and there was no accounting as to how the funds had been used by respondent. Client B had to secure new counsel to complete his divorce case. Client B did not file a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund.
Matter VI
On or about July 2011, Clients C retained respondent to represent them in a civil action to recover damages to their property. Clients C paid respondent a $15,000 retainer which was characterized in the retainer agreement as a “non-refundable” retainer. In or around December 2011, Clients C contacted respondent because they were not satisfied with the lack of communication and diligence from respondent. Clients C informed respondent that they wished to terminate the relationship and requested the return of any unearned legal fees and their client file. Respondent informed Clients C that, pursuant to the retainer agreement he had “set up the file” and that the $15,000 retainer had been earned. Respondent informed Clients C that he could continue the representation or they could drop the case, but that, in either event, he was keeping the retainer fee. Clients C reluctantly elected to continue with the case. At the time of respondent’s interim suspension, Clients C retrieved their client file from the Attorney to Protect Respondent’s Clients’ Interests. The client file consisted mostly of materials provided to respondent from Clients C. There was no correspondence by respondent or any documents from an alleged expert witness, as respondent had discussed with Clients C. Clients C filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and were awarded $11,551.24.
Matter VII
On May 12, 2011, Client D retained respondent to represent him in an action to recover misappropriated funds. Client D paid respondent a $10,000 retainer fee. In February 2012, respondent informed Client D that he was negotiating a settlement. In May 2012, Client D telephoned respondent on several occasions seeking an update about the status of his case. Respondent failed to return these calls. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension.
Complainant D retrieved his client file from the Attorney to Protect Respondent’s Clients’ Interests. The client file consisted of the retainer agreement, a copy of the cancelled retainer check, and one letter. The file did not contain any accounting of how the legal fees had been earned by respondent. Client D filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $1,193.26.
Matter VIII
Client E retained respondent on April 12, 2012, to represent him on pending criminal charges. As of May 2012, Client E had paid respondent $25,000 in legal fees. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned fees to Client E. Client E filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $2,983.15.
Matter VIX
On April 27, 2012, Client F retained respondent to represent her on pending criminal charges. Client F paid respondent $7,500 in legal fees. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client F. Client F filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $724.90.
Matter X
In June 2011, Complainant retained respondent to represent her son who had pending federal and state criminal charges. Complainant paid respondent $25,000 in legal fees to handle the case. Respondent assured Complainant that he would be able to consolidate both federal and state criminal charges.
Respondent appeared with Complainant’s son in October 2011 for him to enter a plea to the state charges. Respondent informed his client that he would receive an eight (8) year sentence when, in fact, the client received a twelve (12) year sentence. Respondent failed to communicate with client after the plea. At the time of respondent’s interim suspension, the client’s federal charges were still pending.
Complainant filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $1,193.26.
Matter XI
Client G paid respondent $125,000 to represent him in various matters. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client G. Client G filed a complaint with the Lawyers’ Fund. He was awarded $4,773.04.
Matter XII
In December 2009, Client H retained respondent to represent her in a criminal matter. Client H paid respondent $7,500 in legal fees. Client H’s case was unresolved at the time of respondent’s interim suspension on June 1, 2012. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client H. Client H filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $417.64.
Matter XIII
In July 2011, Client I retained respondent to handle a child custody modification case. Client I paid respondent $7,500 in legal fees. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. At that time, Client I’s case was still unresolved. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client I. Client I filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $447.47.
Matter XIV
Client J retained respondent in June 2009 to represent him in two disability actions against Liberty Mutual and Wells Fargo and paid respondent $25,000 in legal fees. In October 2009, respondent informed Client J that he needed an additional $15,000 in legal fees. Respondent had Client J execute an Agreement in which respondent guaranteed that the $15,000 would be refunded to Client J regardless of the result of the cases. Both cases were resolved by the end of March 2010. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client J. Client J filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $4,057.08.
Matter XV
On April 7, 2011, Client K retained respondent to represent her in a custody matter and paid respondent $7,500 in legal fees. Client K’s case was still unresolved when respondent was placed on interim suspension on June 1, 2012. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client K. Client K filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $447.47.
Matter XVI
In early 2009, Client L had retained respondent to handle a domestic matter. In early 2011, Client L met with respondent to discuss another matter regarding her husband. Respondent convinced Client L that her husband was involved in a tax evasion scheme and that Client L needed to set up a trust account for the benefit of her four children. Client L transferred $130,000 from her money market account to respondent’s trust account. In fact, Client L’s husband was not being investigated for any criminal scheme.
On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any monies to Client L. Client L filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $4,773.04.
Matter XVII
In May 2009, Client M retained respondent to represent her in a civil matter. Client M paid respondent $40,000 in legal fees. On June 1, 2012, respondent was placed on interim suspension. At that time, Client M’s case was still unresolved.
There were insufficient funds in respondent’s trust account to return any unearned legal fees to Client M. Client M filed a claim with the Lawyers’ Fund and was awarded $3,221.80.
Matter XVIII
In November 2010, Client N retained respondent to set up a conservatorship for his son who was due to be released from prison. On November 30, 2010, Client N transferred $125,000 to respondent’s trust account to fund the conservatorship.
Respondent informed Client N that he would file the appropriate documents with the Probate Court to establish the conservatorship.
In May 2011, Client N’s son was released from prison. Client N’s son died in June 2011. At the time, respondent had not set up the conservatorship. Client N requested respondent return the $125,000. Respondent rebuffed Client N’s request and told him he would release the funds after the probate of the son’s estate.
There are 18 more matters. Go look them up for yourself.

Reply
Happy Jack Top fan August 26, 2023 at 5:13 pm

Judge Price is currently running for “ re-election” and sadly only one other person, attorney Brent Halverson, a well experienced candidate who is moderate and sensible but a non-political type is willing to run against him compared to the newly created judgeship drawing eight challengers. Mr. Halverson’s challenge comes with risks because Judge Price has shown a propensity to retaliate. Hopefully the Low Country will be rid of this well connected but incapable jurist!

Reply
SubZeroIQ August 31, 2023 at 8:48 pm

The hypocrisy keeps on shocking me, most recently that fake rage that Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) trial notes, horror of horrors, got to Fox NEWS.
If that is really an SC DC policy, it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and, in AM’s case, particularly CRUEL. Even if it were true that he murdered his wife and younger son, WHO are the living victims SC DC is trying to “protect” from hearing AM’s voice or point of view in the media?
AM’s older son, Buster, only sister (a professional victim’s advocate at that), and at least his brother Jim, ALL think AM is innocent of the murders. Even Maggie’s own sister and parents did NOT speak againt AM at his sentencing.
SC DC’s policies must be directed and limited towards the safety of the guards and other inmates and preventing escapes. SC DC has absolutely no right to limit an inmate’s speech that does NOT endanger anyone or promote escapes.
THE PUBLIC has a right to know. At least 25% of the public think AM is innocent of the murders. The media which got the documentary is doing a public service by presenting the other point of view.
And it is EXTREMELY hypocritical of those mouth pieces for those who sued AM and probably pinned the murders on him to gain advantage in the civil litigation to be decrying other media.
Also, if they were so jealous of lawyers’ ethics, look at South Carolina’s Rule of Professional Conduct 4.5. A lawyer should NEVER participate in criminal proceedings or professional disciplinary matters against another person to gain advantage in the civil litigation against that person. That rule has been unabashedly broken repeatedly by the very lawyers paying Mandy Matney, Kassidy O’Connell, and their ilk.
And even in other cases, say in a rape case, all the rape victim need do is not watch the media where the convict speaks. SC DC’s policy is stupid and UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Too bad even the ACLU has been so intimated from defending AM’s rights behind bars they would not sue to strike this policy down.

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