Owner of Old Crime Paper Jailed for 3rd Time in 14 Months; Records Show He Has Problems in Criminal & Civil Courts
(Story originally published in The Jail Report Upstate on May 2, 2013)
Jail Birds hasn’t published a new edition in three months, and we may know why.
Ironically, the owner of the once-popular crime newspaper is becoming a “Jail Bird” himself, recently landing in the Spartanburg County Detention Center for his third arrest in just 14 months.
In addition, Spartanburg’s David Lowe Bryant continues to face a mounting stack of criminal charges and civil lawsuits, much of it related to a “Jail Birds” empire that once dominated large sections of the Carolinas.
In the latest bizarre development for this 31-year-old businessman, Bryant was accused of impersonating a law enforcement officer April 12 at the Verizon Wireless Store on East Main Street in Spartanburg.
According to a report, Bryant went into the Verizon store and asked to get a loaner phone since his was ruined from falling into some water. Verizon offers free loaner phones to people working in emergency services.
Assistant Store Manager Nicole Hancock told authorities that Bryant told a new employee that he needed his phone replaced immediately because he “worked for the sheriff’s office and that they were working a case up in Cannons Campground,” a report says.
Bryant acknowledged working for Jail Birds to the employee but insisted he also worked for the sheriff’s office, the report says.
Hancock was suspicious and turned on a recorder, which captured Bryant asking the store if he needed to get the sheriff to write a letter to get the loaner phone.
“The sales associate asked about maybe getting his badge and he stated that yeah, he could get it,” a report says. “He went onto state that he was investigating a house on Cannons Campground and that he would be back over this way later and could get a badge.”
Bryant also warned the store about counterfeit 10-dollar bills in the area, playing the part of an officer, the report says.
Toward the end of the transaction, store employees said Bryant became “a little forceful with them” so they gave him a $449 iPhone 4 on loan to avoid a confrontation.
Hancock eventually called the sheriff’s office and discovered Bryant did not work for them.
Sheriff’s officials investigated and showed the employees a photo line-up with Bryant included, and they picked him out as the cop impersonator. A warrant was issued for securing property by fraudulent impersonation of officer, and he was arrested.
But that wasn’t Bryant’s first arrest. On Feb. 5, 2012, he was arrested in Cowpens for driving under suspension.
Then, on June 12, 2012, Bryant found himself in the Spartanburg County Jail again, this time charged with breaking the law in regards to his Jail Birds publication.
He was charged with seven counts of “confidentiality violation by Employment Security Commission.” The state agency confirmed that the charges relate to his refusal to pay taxes for his employees.
Bryant has asked for a jury trial in Spartanburg County, and his next court date is set for May 14, said Adrienne Fairwell, spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
A review of documents at the Spartanburg County courthouse shows Bryant’s crime weekly also had multiple lawsuits filed against it, including:
• Iwanna: The orgainization printed Jail Birds newspaper, but they sued Jail Birds LLC in 2010 for not paying them over $23,000. Oddly enough, Bryant never appeared in court to answer the suit. In March 2011, the court entered a judgment by default, ordering Jail Birds, LLC to pay Iwanna the sum of $27,648 including interest. It’s unclear if Jail Birds ever paid the debt.
• Ernest Bobo: Ernest Bobo won a settlement against Jail Birds, LLC, for $5,000 in 2011. It’s unclear why he sued or if the debt was paid.
• Ashley K. King: King currently has a suit pending against Jail Birds LLC and other defendants for an arrest published in Jail Birds. The next court date is set for June 10.
(Disclaimer: The Jail Report was previously a competitor of Jail Birds before Bryant’s paper stopped publishing in January.)