Double killer Alex Murdaugh pleads not guilty to money laundering charges
Alex Murdaugh faced charges in court on Wednesday of federal money laundering and wire fraud.
He is accused of stealing money from his clients, and although he pleaded not guilty, his lawyer said that might change soon.
Murdaugh is already serving a life sentence in a South Carolina state prison for killing his wife and son, and the details of the 22 financial charges are not 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”.
At his murder trial earlier this year Murdaugh repeatedly denied shooting his 22-year-old son, Paul, and 52-year-old wife, Maggie, at their home.
Prosecutors said he decided to kill them because his millions of dollars of theft was about to be discovered, and he was hoping their deaths would buy him sympathy and time to figure out a cover-up.
Murdaugh, who turned 55 in a state prison cell in protective custody on Saturday, also faces around 100 other state charges, including stealing from clients and his family’s law firm, insurance fraud and tax evasion.
Prosecutors, Murdaugh’s lawyers 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 longtime friend Cory Fleming — an old college roommate and godfather to one of his sons — pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his part in helping Murdaugh steal more than four million dollars (£3.2 million) in wrongful death settlements with insurers meant 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.
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