New Trouble For Alex Murdaugh as He Is Charged With Stealing and Laundering Millions From Clients
The convicted killer is facing an additional 150 years in prison if convicted of the financial crimes.
Alex Murdaugh was convicted of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, earlier this year. However, the disbarred South Carolina's legal battles have just begun. On Wednesday, Murdaugh was indicted on over 20 counts of financial crimes, with prosecutors maintaining that over 16 years, he stole millions of dollars from his legal clients – including Gloria Satterfield, the housekeeper who died at his property in 2018 and was mentioned throughout his murder trial.
According to the 22-count indictment unsealed by the U.S. attorney's office for the District of South Carolina, the convicted killer, "engaged in three different schemes to obtain money and property from his personal injury clients" while he was practicing law at his firm.
According to the prosecution, he has been charged with counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and committing bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. During his lengthy trial, he confessed to stealing money from clients.
"Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers," states U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs in a news release announcing the charges.
"South Carolinians turn to lawyers when they are at their most vulnerable, and in our state, those who abuse the public's trust and enrich themselves by fraud, theft and self-dealing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Murdaugh's attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, who also represented him in his murder trial, maintain their client "has been cooperating with the United States Attorneys' Office and federal agencies in their investigation of a broad range of activities," in a statement to The Washington Post.
"We anticipate that the charges brought today will be quickly resolved without a trial," they said.
Murdaugh faces up to 150 years added to his two life sentences and fines of up to $4.75 million if he is found guilty of all charges.
In the first of the schemes, Murdaugh devised "a scheme to defraud and to obtain money by means of false pretenses" between at least September 2005 and September 2021.
This was done via rerouting and redirecting settlements of his clients to his own accounts, according to the indictment.
In another scheme, which prosecutors believe went on between July 2011 and at least October 2021, he conspired with his banker, Russell Laffitte, to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
"As part of the scheme, the indictment alleges Murdaugh directed law firm employees to make settlement checks payable to 'Palmetto State Bank.' The checks were then delivered to Laffitte, whom Murdaugh directed to use the settlement funds for Murdaugh's benefit," prosecutors wrote. "The funds were used to pay off Murdaugh's personal loans and for personal expenses and cash withdrawals."
In the third alleged scheme, Murdaugh funneled stolen personal injury settlements through an account named "fake Forge" to conceal his fraud efforts. Satterfield's estate was defrauded with this scheme, with Murdaugh's insurance companies settling the estate's claim for $505,000 and $3.8 million, per the indictment.
However, instead of paying his former employee's family, he and his attorney allegedly "conspired to siphon settlement funds, disguised as 'prosecution expenses,' for their own personal enrichment."