Alex Murdaugh indicted on federal fraud charges
Written by ABC Audio. All rights reserved. on May 25, 2023
(COLUMBIA, S.C) — A grand jury has indicted convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina attorney, on federal fraud charges, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Murdaugh, 54, is currently serving life in prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and their youngest son.
The federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment against Murdaugh for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud; bank fraud; wire fraud; and money laundering, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina said.
The indictment alleges that Murdaugh “engaged in three different schemes to obtain money and property from his personal injury clients” between 2005 and 2021 while working as a personal injury attorney at his Hampton law firm.
The alleged schemes involved routing clients’ settlement funds to his own accounts as well as a fake account under the name “Forge,” as well as conspiring with a banker to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. The banker, Russell Laffitte, was convicted on six federal charges in connection with the scheme in November 2022, prosecutors said.
The indictment further alleges that Murdaugh conspired with another personal injury attorney to defraud the estate of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at Murdaugh’s home in February 2018, and funnel nearly $3.5 million into his “fake Forge” account “for his own personal enrichment,” prosecutors said.
“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said in a statement. “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 said in a statement that he is cooperating with federal prosecutors.
“We anticipate that the charges brought today will be quickly resolved without a trial,” his attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said in a statement to ABC News.
Murdaugh resigned from his firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick, in September 2021. The firm has also sued him for allegedly funneling stolen money from clients and the law firm into a fake bank account for years.
Murdaugh also faces about 100 other state charges for allegations ranging from money laundering to staging his own death so his surviving son could cash in on his $10 million life insurance policy to misappropriating settlement funds in the death of his housekeeper.
Murdaugh was found guilty in March of fatally shooting his wife and younger son at the family’s property in June 2021.
The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for nearly three hours following five weeks of testimony from more than 70 witnesses — including Murdaugh himself, who denied the murders but admitted to lying to investigators and cheating his clients.
During the high-profile trial, state prosecutors argued that years of lies and theft were about to catch up to Murdaugh and the murders were a way to divert attention.
Murdaugh’s attorneys are seeking to appeal his conviction in the double murder case.
ABC News’ Eva Pilgrim contributed to this report.
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