Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers ask for feds to seize money earmarked for victims

Posted at 3:54 PM, September 27, 2023


COLUMBIA, S.C. (Court TV) — Attorneys for convicted killer and disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh have filed a motion asking for the federal government to seize his assets, which are currently in state custody.

Murdaugh in court wearing orange jumpsuit

Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh arrives in court in Beaufort, S.C. Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. Murdaugh appeared publicly as a convicted murderer for the first time at the state court hearing regarding the slew of financial crimes allegedly committed by the disbarred South Carolina attorney. (AP Photo/James Pollard)

Alex Murdaugh was convicted of killing his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, on their Moselle property and was sentenced to serve life without parole. The murders were committed as Murdaugh’s life began to unravel and evidence of his financial crimes were becoming public. Murdaugh has appealed his conviction.

Murdaugh pleaded guilty to 22 federal charges of financial fraud and money laundering on Sept. 21. Sentencing in the case has not yet been scheduled, but each charge carries a maximum of at least 20 years in prison. The plea agreement also requires that Murdaugh pay $9 million restitution. Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to similar charges he’s facing at the state level in South Carolina.

Murdaugh’s assets were frozen and placed into receivership in 2021 after a judge was concerned that he and his family might be hiding money amid the growing number of investigations and lawsuits he was facing. Those lawsuits included one filed by the family of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old killed after Murdaugh’s boat, driven by his son, Paul, crashed. The family of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, also filed a lawsuit against Murdaugh, accusing him of stealing money from an insurance settlement after the woman’s death.

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Money in the receivership includes assets from the sale of the Moselle property and an auction that sold the items from inside the family’s home.

The motion, filed Monday by Murdaugh’s attorneys, argues the money needs to be released to the federal government because they “are at risk of substantial dissipation and waste without the Court’s immediate action.” The motion alleges that the money, which originally amounted to $2,163,396.01 has been reduced by more than $600,000 because the co-receivers have been paying themselves from the account.

Despite the state having already frozen the accounts, Murdaugh’s attorneys claim the federal government has a right to seize them, claiming that “To the extend any funds in the Receivership are traceable to financial crimes committed by Mr. Murdaugh, title transferred to the United States when the crimes were committed.”

The motion notes that the United States government should “maintain and distribute the Murdaugh Funds in strict compliance with the law, respecting all legitimate third-party interests and providing restitution to victims to the extent possible, without need of the services of private attorneys whose fees would further dissipate the Murdaugh funds.”

Jim Griffin, Murdaugh’s attorney, told The State that after they submitted their motion, one of the two receivers managing the money sent a subpoena to Murdaugh’s attorneys seeking financial information. Griffin told the newspaper he considered the subpoena “retaliatory.”