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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Alex Murdaugh pleads guilty to federal charges in $6.5 million fraud scheme

Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty Thursday to federal crimes tied to a decadelong scheme to rob his personal injury clients.

Charleston, S.C. (CN) — Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty to a bevy of federal financial crimes Thursday for his role in a decadelong scheme to steal millions from former clients of his family law firm.

Murdaugh confessed to committing 22 felonies, including 14 counts of money laundering, in a conspiracy that unraveled after his wife and son were shot to death two years ago at the family’s hunting estate in Colleton County.

The slayings drew national attention that only intensified after the once-respected attorney became the primary suspect in the case. Murdaugh was indicted last summer in the murders and convicted after a six-week trial in Colleton County. He is serving two consecutive life sentences in state prison.

The towering former college quarterback wore black-rimmed glasses as he reviewed his indictment Thursday morning in Charleston federal court. His straw-colored hair was cropped short and his legs shackled. He told U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, an appointee of Barack Obama, he has been sober for 744 days.

“It’s my hope that by taking responsibility, the people I hurt can begin to heal,” he said.

Murdaugh testified at his murder trial it was a consuming opioid addiction that drove him to steal at least $6.5 million from his personal injury clients.

Murdaugh stole from a settlement intended for the sons of his longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall in 2018 at the family hunting estate. Two girls who lost their mother and brother in a 2005 car crash had their trust accounts pilfered before they became adults. A man whose wife died in a 2011 car crash was swindled, too.

Murdaugh didn’t act alone, authorities say.

Murdaugh’s accomplices included Russell Laffitte, a former executive at Palmetto State Bank, and Cory Fleming, a close friend and fellow lawyer.

Gergel sentenced Laffitte to seven years in federal prison last month for moving Murdaugh’s stolen money through various bank accounts and structuring Murdaugh's deposits to help hide the scheme. His attorneys have said they plan to appeal his convictions.

Fleming is serving almost four years in federal prison for stealing nearly $200,000 from clients Murdaugh referred to him. He was sentenced to another 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty earlier this month to similar charges filed in South Carolina.

Murdaugh maintains he did not kill his wife, Maggie, and their son Paul. His attorneys are seeking a new trial based on claims the elected court clerk for Colleton County tampered with the jury process.

Murdaugh also faces state charges in the thefts. A trial in that case is scheduled for November.

A sentencing date for the federal financial crimes has not been scheduled.

Follow @SteveGarrisonPC
Categories / Criminal, Regional

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