Alex Murdaugh pleads not guilty — for now — to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges
May 31, 2023, 11:41 AM
(Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File)
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Alex Murdaugh was arraigned Wednesday on federal money laundering and wire fraud charges for indictments saying he stole money from his clients.
The convicted murderer already serving a life sentence in a South Carolina state prison for killing his wife and son pleaded not guilty for now. But his lawyers said at the hearing that might change soon.
The details of the 22 charges aren’t new. State prosecutors have indicted Murdaugh on similar charges, saying he diverted money meant for clients and a wrongful death settlement for his family’s longtime housekeeper who fell at Murdaugh’s home to his own bank accounts.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said in a statement last week the former attorney has been cooperating with federal investigators, and they anticipated the latest charges would be “quickly resolved without a trial.”
A federal guilty plea to the charges that all carry at least 20 years in prison would guarantee a long time in prison for Murdaugh even if his pending appeal of his double murder conviction was successful.
Murdaugh buy him sympathy and time to figure out a cover-up.
Murdaugh, who turned 55 in a state prison cell in protective custody Saturday, also faces around tax evasion.
Prosecutors, Murdaugh’s attorneys and state Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over the murder trial, are trying to find court time to try at least some of those charges before Newman has to retire because of his age at the end of 2023.
In federal court, Murdaugh faces 14 counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
His for the family of his longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
The other allegations prosecutors detail in Murdaugh’s federal indictments already have been revealed in state legal papers.
It said Murdaugh and a banker friend, Russell Laffitte, worked together to take settlement money out of client’s accounts, prosecutors said. Laffitte was convicted in November of six wire and bank fraud charges.
Other federal indictments give detailed allegations of how Murdaugh created a bank account that had a similar name to a legitimate company that handled settlements to steal money from clients.