Disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh faces new financial charges

By Maria Cartaya and Christina Maxouris, CNN

The South Carolina state grand jury has issued new charges against a disgraced former attorney Alex Murdaughabout a month after pleading not guilty to murder charges in the murders of his wife and son.

Murdaugh was charged with four counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretences worth $10,000 or more; two counts of money laundering worth $20,000 to $100,000; one count of money laundering worth $100,000 or more; and two counts of computer crime worth more than $10,000, according to a Friday Press release South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

CNN has reached out to Murdaugh’s attorney, Richard Harpootlian, for comment. A press representative for Harpootlian told CNN in an email, “No comment at this time.”

The latest indictments allege Murdaugh robbed his former law firm and his brother.

According to an indictment, it was common for certain partners at the PMPED law firm (Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick) to loan money to the firm at the beginning of each year to cover certain expenses up to that the firm generated sufficient income and they could be repaid with interest, but Murdaugh generally did not make these loans.

The company’s accounting office “erroneously issued a repayment loan check to Murdaugh for $121,358.63” that should have gone to Murdaugh’s brother, who had made a loan, according to the indictment. But Murdaugh went to the accounting office and “although misrepresentations caused the office to cut another check for the same amount…(and) then deposited that replacement loan repayment check into his account and converted the funds for his personal use”.

Murdaugh engaged in financial transactions “with property he knew to be the proceeds of or derived directly or indirectly from the proceeds of unlawful activity,” another charge states.

Another indictment alleges that Murdaugh created a bank account “for the purpose of misappropriating funds belonging to others under the delusion that the money was going to (a) legitimate settlement planning company.”

He then ensured that a check for $91,867.50, which represented legal fees to the law firm in one case, was disbursed from the client’s trust account to the bank account he had created and controlled. , according to the indictment. He then used that money “for his personal use, for expenses including, but not limited to, credit card payments, transfers to family members, overdraft fees, and checks written to business associates. “, according to this indictment.

A total of 90 counts for fraud schemes

murdaugh resigned from the law firm in September 2021 after “the discovery by PMPED that Alex misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies,” the company said in a statement. That same month, the state Supreme Court issued an order suspending his license to practice law in South Carolina.

In October, the a law firm sued Murdaugh to recover funds he alleged that he stole clients for his personal use, saying Murdaugh “developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the business and clients to a fictitious entity” over many years.

Murdaugh was already facing a host of other charges for alleged financial crimes.

“In total, through 18 indictments containing 90 counts against Murdaugh, the state grand jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud victims of $8,789,447.77,” said the state attorney general.

murdaugh was also charged in July on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime in connection with the murder of his wife and son.

Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found shot dead on the family property in Islandton, about an hour north of Hilton Head Island, on June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh made the 911 call, saying he had just returned home and discovered their bodies.

He pleaded not guilty and his lawyers said he wanted “everyone to know he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul”.

Murdaugh wants the trial to begin quickly, his lawyer said, because he believes “the killer(s) of his wife and son are still at large.”

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