Grand jury indicts Alex Murdaugh on federal charges
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh has some new legal problems: A federal grand jury has indicted him on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud; bank fraud; wire fraud; and money laundering.
The South Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday morning that the grand jury had returned the 22-count indictment against Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh, 54, of Hampton.
Murdaugh was a personal injury attorney at a law firm and was convicted of killing his wife and son Paul at their hunting property in June 2021. In addition, he’s accused of a range of other financial and other crimes, including a suicide-for-hire insurance scheme.
ALSO IN THE NEWS:
- Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that Murdaugh co-conspirator Cory H. Fleming, 54, of Beaufort, is scheduled to plead guilty in federal court Thursday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He’s accused in a scheme to defraud the estate of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at Murdaugh’s home. Fleming represented Satterfield’s family and allegedly conspired with Murdaugh to siphon off funds from insurance settlements in the death.
He’s now serving two consecutive life terms, reportedly at McCormick State Prison.
The 28-page indictment details how Murdaugh reportedly used millions of dollars in funds he stole from clients, including some who were minors. The new charges are for conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
According to the indictment, Murdaugh used stolen settlement money meant for personal injury clients, with the help of Palmetto State Bank’s Russell Laffitte, for more than a decade to pay for a number of personal expenses.
In one case, Laffitte was a conservator on an account for a minor and is accused of distributing 16 loans worth $963,500 to Murdaugh. Murdaugh reportedly used tens of thousands of dollars to repay his overdrawn personal checking account.
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The indictment says Murdaugh used funds stolen from other personal injury clients to repay the money. When the victim turned 18, Murdaugh still owed money to the account so Laffitte issued him a $500,000 line of credit which largely went to repay it as well, according to the indictment.
In another case, a $1,325,000 settlement was issued for the estate of a client. Murdaugh reportedly asked Laffitte to re-cut the settlement in amounts he requested and used the money for personal expenses including:
- $75,000 money order to Murdaugh’s father, Randolph Murdaugh III.
- $7,500 money order to wife Maggie Murdaugh.
- $388,687.50 money order to repay a private loan.
- $250,988.15 to Murdaugh’s personal checking account.
The indictment states that funds were given to Murdaugh in another case where Laffitte was the victim’s conservator and Murdaugh allegedly put $10,000 in an account for his wife. He also issued a $329,500 money order to his father, the documents state. Approximately $4,000 went to repaying Murdaugh’s boat loans, according to the indictment.
Deposits made by Murdaugh into his Bank of America account were strategically divided to conceal his crimes, the indictment says.
The housekeeper case
The indictment also alleges from in or around February 2018 until at least October 2020, Murdaugh conspired with a personal injury attorney in Beaufort, Cory Fleming, to defraud the estate of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, and Murdaugh’s homeowner’s insurance carriers.
In February 2018, Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, passed away after a fall at Murdaugh’s home. Murdaugh allegedly recommended the housekeeper’s estate hire Beaufort attorney Cory Fleming to represent them and file a claim against Murdaugh to collect from his homeowner’s insurance policies.
Murdaugh’s insurance companies settled the estate’s claim for $505,000 and $3,800,000. The indictment further alleges Murdaugh and Fleming conspired to siphon settlement funds, disguised as “prosecution expenses,” for their own personal enrichment.
The indictment also alleges Murdaugh directed Fleming to draft checks totaling $3,483,431.95 made payable to “Forge.” Murdaugh then allegedly deposited the checks into his “Forge” account and used the funds for his own personal needs. The estate did not receive any of the settlement funds.
The federal charges
- One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
- One count of bank fraud, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
- Two counts of wire fraud, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
- Three counts of wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
- One count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
- Fourteen counts of money laundering, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
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