Convicted double murderer and disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh has been charged with federal financial crimes, the South Carolina District Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury sitting in Charleston returned a 22-count, 28-page indictment against the infamous Lowcountry attorney, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. , bank fraud, electronic fraud and money laundering.
Murdaugh’s legal team provided Law&Crime with a statement regarding the latest charges almost as soon as they became public.
“Alex has been cooperating with the United States Attorney’s Office and federal agencies in their investigation of a wide range of activities,” Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said in an email. “We anticipate that the charges filed today will be quickly resolved without a trial.”
More Law&Crime coverage: Alex Murdaugh charged with tax evasion – bringing total number of alleged financial crimes to 101
According to federal authorities, the indictment alleges that during the previous period when Murdaugh was an attorney at his personal injury law firm, which bore his name and which has since closed, he engaged in three different schemes to steal money and property from his clients.
In an alleged scheme, the indictment says that between at least September 2005 and September 2021, Murdaugh routinely funneled and redirected his clients’ settlement funds to himself.
The indictment alleges that the first scheme used the following methods to defraud:
- Drafting or directing law firm employees to draft disbursement sheets to send settlement funds to Murdaugh accounts without proper disclosure or client or law firm approval;
- Claim funds held in the law firm’s trust account as attorneys’ fees and direct the disbursement of such funds for its benefit;
- Claiming and collecting attorneys’ fees on false or non-existent annuities;
- Create fraudulent “expenses” that were never incurred on customer matters and direct the disbursement of settlement funds to pay cited expenses, including claimed medical expenses, construction expenses, and airfares;
- Directing other attorneys with whom he was associated on client matters to pay attorney fees directly to him, rather than channeling them appropriately through the law firm; And
- Intercept insurance products intended for beneficiaries and deposit them directly into their personal account.
The second alleged scheme relates to activity between July 2011 and at least October 2021, according to the indictment, when Murdaugh and Russell Laffitte, the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank, allegedly conspired to steal millions of dollars. In the alleged scheme, Laffitte posed as a bogus personal or conservative representative for many of Murdaugh’s personal injury clients.
In late November 2022, Laffitte was found guilty by a jury of six separate financial crimes, including bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and embezzlement of bank funds. Jurors found that $680,000 of those funds had been paid directly to Murdaugh’s former law firm and $1.25 million had been illegally loaned to Murdaugh himself. Laffitte is currently awaiting sentencing.
More Law&Crime coverage: Convicted Alex Murdaugh co-conspirator tries to use murderer’s statements during trial to overturn his conviction
The third alleged scheme, according to federal prosecutors, occurred between September 2015 and October 2020 when Murdaugh created a bogus company to structure insurance settlements called ‘Forge’ which was used to defraud the heirs of his former housekeeper. after his death from a fall on the steps of the family hunting lodge.
The indictment further alleges that Murdaugh conspired with another lawyer during this scheme – who also defrauded the insurance company that paid the insurance settlement.
“Murdaugh’s insurance companies have settled the estate’s claim for $505,000 and $3,800,000,” a federal press release summarizes. “The indictment alleges that Murdaugh and the personal injury attorney conspired to siphon off settlement funds, disguised as ‘lawsuit fees,’ for their own personal enrichment. The indictment alleges in besides that Murdaugh ordered Beaufort’s lawyer to write checks totaling $3,483,431.95 to “Forge”. Murdaugh then deposited the checks into his “fake Forge account” and used the funds for his own personal enrichment The estate did not receive any of the settlement funds.
More Law&Crime coverage: Alex Murdaugh seeks release from $4.3million judgment in lawsuit brought by sons of late housekeeper
Murdaugh is already serving two consecutive life sentences for the June 2021 murder of his wife and youngest son.
The accused is currently being held at McCormick Correctional Institution, a Palmetto State prison located at 386 Redemption Way, McCormick. If convicted of federal charges, he will likely be transferred to federal prison.
A writ of habeas corpus was filed in the case by federal prosecutor Emily Limehouse, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show. The writ was filed so that Murdaugh could be moved from McCormick to the US courthouse in Charleston or anywhere else the federal government needs him for the duration of their case.
The lead prosecutor in the case is currently known as Kathleen Michelle Stoughton. The case is overseen by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel.
During his trial for double murder, the defendant admitted his legal guilt for numerous fraudulent schemes.
More Law&Crime coverage: Alex Murdaugh admitted to dozens of financial crimes and faces more than 700 years in prison for those concessions alone
“Trust in our justice system begins with trust in its attorneys,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said in a press release. “The people of South Carolina turn to lawyers when they are most vulnerable, and in our state, those who abuse the public trust and enrich themselves through fraud, theft and personal dealings will be prosecuted. to the fullest extent of the law. We are grateful to the FBI for their tireless work on this case and to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for their work in keeping Alex Murdaugh, and those who have enabled, responsible in our state system. We remain committed to doing our part to continue this effort in the federal system.
Read the indictment in full below:
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