Disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty to bank fraud, six months after he was found guilty of murdering his wife and son.
Murdaugh, 54, appeared before a federal court in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday to finalize a plea deal that for 22 counts of financial crimes, including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.
As part of the plea deal, Murdaugh agreed to pay almost $9,000,000 in restitution to the victims of his fraud schemes.
Murdaugh appeared in the federal courtroom wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. He cried before the judge before entering his guilty plea.
‘I want to take responsibility,’ he told reporters outside the courthouse. ‘I want my son to see me take responsibility. It’s my hope that by taking responsibility that the people I’ve hurt can begin to heal.’
Murdaugh gained national attention in 2021 when he was arrested for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.
At his murder trial, Murdaugh repeatedly admitted to embezzling money, but denied having any involvement in the murder of his wife and son.
‘There’s two things Alex will tell you,’ said his defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian. ‘One, he stole the money. Two, he did not kill Maggie and Paul.’
Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole in March.
US Attorney Adair Boroughs called Murdaugh’s financial crimes ‘extensive, brazen, and callous.’
‘He stole indiscriminately from his clients, from his law firm, and from others who trusted him,’ she said in a statement.
According to the US Attorney’s Office for South Carolina, Murdaugh conspired with his banker, Russell Laffitte, over the course of 10 years to siphon payments from his law firm’s clients.
‘The funds were used to pay off Murdaugh’s personal loans and for personal expenses and cash withdrawals,’ the US Attorney’s Office said.
Laffitte was convicted on six charges related to the scheme in November 2022, including wire fraud and bank fraud.
Prosecutors argued that Murdaugh laundered the stolen money through an account he set up under the name ‘Forge,’ which masqueraded as a ‘legitimate corporation for structuring insurance settlements.’
Instead, these payments were funneled directly to Murdaugh.
They also argued he defrauded the estate of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after falling at Murdaugh’s home in 2018.
Murdaugh recommended her family hire a lawyer in Beaufort, South Carolina, who Murdaugh allegedly conspired with to defraud his own homeowner’s insurance policy.
Murdaugh’s homeowner’s insurance paid out sums of $505,000 and $3,800,000. Some of the money ended up in the same ‘Forge’ business account he had already been using for years.
According to the indictment, Satterfield’s estate did not receive any of this money.
Murdaugh will be sentenced at a hearing at a later date. The federal charges come with a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors are expected to ask a judge to allow Murdaugh to serve the sentence concurrently with his murder sentence as part of the plea deal.
Murdaugh faces more state charges for financial crimes at a trial scheduled for November 2023.
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