Alex Murdaugh reaches plea deal days before trial in financial crimes case


Beaufort, South Carolina – Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh He struck a plea deal on Friday, days before his trial was set to begin in South Carolina’s sprawling case against him for dozens of financial crimes.

Murdaugh, 55, has previously appeared in Beaufort District Court Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman He agreed to plead guilty to various charges, including a case in which he was accused of embezzling insurance settlement funds in The Murdough family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, dies.

“I am pleased to plead guilty to these charges for a number of reasons,” the former personal injury lawyer, shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, told the court.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters of the state Attorney General’s Office recommended a 27-year prison sentence, though Newman said he would make a final decision during the Nov. 28 sentencing in which he “fully intends” to accept Murdaugh’s guilty plea after hearing from the victims.

Waters gave an overview of the various cases, accusing Murdoch of having an “insatiable need for money,” as Murdoch sat stone-faced in the nearly empty courtroom — a far cry from the crowded proceedings during his trial for double murder in February.

Murdaugh told Newman that he “disagrees with some of the accounts” given by Waters, but that he “disagrees with the basic elements of the facts of the crimes.”

The issue of the state that played a role A pivotal role Murdoch’s trial included 101 financial charges and an alleged loss of $8.8 million to those affected by the schemes he perpetrated against his clients as well as his family’s law firm.

Murdaugh is serving two consecutive life sentences after being convicted of shooting his wife, Margaret, 52, and their youngest son, Paul, 22, in 2021.

The agreement between the state’s attorney’s office and Murdaugh’s defense team means he will avoid a trial that was scheduled to begin on November 27, which would have once again put the disbarred attorney in the spotlight.

A timeline of Mardo’s legal troubles

Murdoch’s trial received extensive media coverage, given his lineage Scion of a powerful legal family in the Lowcountry, South Carolina, and his actions following the shooting deaths of his wife and son in their rural home.

Case, classified for the first time as An unsolved double murderand quickly disintegrated into broader allegations Financial frauda Hitman plot And Drug AddictionAnd other strange inquiries were revived Deaths associated with the Murdoch family.

Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh speaks with his defense attorney in Beaufort, South Carolina on Friday, November 17, 2023. (James Pollard/AP)

Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh speaks with his defense attorney in Beaufort, South Carolina on Friday, November 17, 2023. (James Pollard/AP)

Murdo has declared his innocence in the shooting incident that killed his wife and son since a grand jury indicted him on murder charges last year. Prosecutors claimed he killed them to gain pity before being exposed for a slew of financial crimes.

he He pleaded guilty in federal court In September, he was charged with nearly two dozen counts of financial fraud and money laundering. As part of the plea deal, Murdaugh must pay restitution to “each identifiable victim,” according to the agreement with federal prosecutors, who accused him of stealing about $9 million from customers in a “pattern of criminal activity” dating back more than a year. a decade.

In addition, he may be subject to a polygraph test and could be called “to give full and truthful testimony before any grand jury and at any other trials or other proceedings,” prosecutors said.

In turn, his federal sentence must be served at the same time as any sentence imposed in his state case.

Murdaugh was linked to two co-conspirators — Corey Fleming, a former lawyer and college roommate, and Russell Lafitte, the bank’s former CEO — who prosecutors say helped him in schemes to defraud customers out of their money from 2005 to at least 2021. The men had previously been convicted or pleaded guilty to related crimes.

In the case of Satterfield, who died in 2018 after what was described as “A trip and a fall“At the Murdaugh family home, prosecutors say Murdaugh ordered Fleming to draft checks totaling about $3.5 million to a bank account he used for his personal enrichment, while Satterfield’s two adult children received none of the money.

“We have no doubt that Alex Murdaugh will not get a breath of fresh air out of prison,” Eric Bland, the Satterfield family’s attorney, said in a statement. “Regardless of the murder conviction, this monster deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars.”

Murdoch’s lawyers said after the hearing that their client had never denied committing financial crimes, which he generally admitted when he took the stand in the murder trial.

“He feels very comfortable serving prison time for the crimes he committed,” Jim Griffin, one of Murdoch’s lawyers, told reporters. “He does not feel comfortable spending time in prison for the murder of his wife and son, which he did not do.”

Murdo is trying to win a new trial on murder charges after his lawyers accused the court clerk of jury tampering. She denied these accusations. Newman, who also oversaw that trial, has agreed to recuse himself from any further proceedings related to the case, where he will likely be called as a witness. According to a court order Thursday.

Juliette Arcodia reported from Beaufort and Eric Ortiz from New York.

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