By KATIE McLAUGHLIN
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Court TV) — Alex Murdaugh has been indicted on federal criminal charges related to a financial crime spree that went on for nearly a decade.
The new charges against the disgraced, disbarred South Carolina attorney include wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering, among other alleged offenses.
Murdaugh, 54, who was convicted earlier this year of fatally gunning down his wife and son, is accused of conspiring with at least one banker and one other attorney to steal nearly $9 million.
The 22-count indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court on May 23. The indictment alleges that Murdaugh schemed to steal money and property from personal injury clients at his Hampton, S.C. law firm. The firm where Murdaugh was formerly employed had been founded by his great-grandfather.
According to the indictment, Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes spanned multiple counties and included multiple victims.
Murdaugh is accused of funneling settlement money earmarked for his personal injury clients to his own bank accounts. In one alleged scheme, he conspired with fellow personal injury attorney Cory Fleming to steal settlement money from the family of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died following a spill on the brick steps in front of Murdaugh’s home. Nearly $3.5 million meant for Satterfield’s sons went into a fake account named “Forge.”
In another alleged scheme, Murdaugh is accused of conspiring with banker Russell Laffitte to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Laffitte was convicted last year on federal charges related to the scheme.
Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, attorneys for Murdaugh, released the following statement in response to the unsealing of federal indictments:
“Alex has been cooperating with the United States Attorney’s Office and federal agencies in their investigation of a broad range of activities. We anticipate that the charges brought today will be quickly resolved without a trial.”
Attorneys Eric S. Bland and Ronald L. Richter, Jr., whose firm has represented several families who accused Murdaugh of stealing their settlement money, also reacted to the news with a statement:
“Today has been a great day for justice in South Carolina related to the ongoing criminal investigations into Alex Murdaugh and Cory Fleming. A new federal grand jury indictment was unsealed today charging Alex Murdaugh with 22 new financial crimes, many of which stem from the theft of settlement funds from the Satterfield family and our other clients the Plyler sisters.
At the same time, it has been revealed that Cory Fleming was indicted for and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, also flowing from his involvement in the theft of the Satterfield settlement funds. More importantly, Mr. Fleming has agreed to provide cooperation to the federal authorities, and Dick Harpootlian has indicated that Alex Murdaugh has been cooperating with the United States investigation for some time.
This cooperation and the fruit it yields will be interesting. The United States will likely be aided greatly in its prosecution of Alex Murdaugh by the recent filings that Murdaugh has entered in the United States District Court related to the Nautilus lawsuit in which Murdaugh admits that he deposited the Satterfield settlement funds into his fake Forge account at Bank of America. In the same federal filing, Murdaugh admits having confessed judgment to the Satterfield boys for $4,305,000.00, but neglects to advance the theory that the confession is somehow invalid because of his fraud, drugs, duress and/or other reasons that he advanced on a separate front through his State court Motion for Relief from Judgment filed just 15 days later.
While it is said that Lady Justice is blind, she is not a sucker. Bottom Line—Can’t run or hide from justice.”
In addition to the new 22-count indictment, Murdaugh faces 102 criminal charges from indictments on the state and local level. Those charges are related to offenses like misappropriating funds, and attempting to stage his own death so that his surviving son could benefit from a $10 million life insurance policy.
Although the new charges carry punishments including prison time and financial penalties, Murdaugh is already serving a life sentence for the murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, Paul Murdaugh.