Just before Mandy and Liz wrote True Sunlight Episode 38, we finally learned the details about why Hilton Head Island attorney Peter J. Strauss was suspended from practicing law on Dec. 12, 2023. 

Federal court records — which were sealed until just last week — revealed that Strauss was charged in October 2023 for his role in allegedly helping California couple Jeff and Paulette Carpoff hide $3,000,000 funds from the federal government after they were accused of running a ponzi scheme involving a solar energy company. 

Here are 5 things to know about Strauss and how he may fit into the larger Murdaugh puzzle. 

1. Strauss Makes His Money in Captive Insurance 

Strauss is a Hilton Head Island attorney who owns Strauss Global, which was “established to deliver the highest level of legal, tax, insurance, risk management, asset protection, and family office services within one organization” according to their website. You can hear more about how the captive insurance business works in True Sunlight Episode 29

2. Strauss Has Loose Ties to the Murdaugh World and a Strange Death on Hilton Head 

Mandy and Liz have two independent sources who have said Strauss may be the key that unlocks the location of Alex Murdaugh’s missing millions, but Strauss also had the bad luck of being one of four men who found the body of Dennis Gerwing in March 2008. Gerwing, an accountant, hired Cory Fleming to represent him, after he was looked at as a person of interest in the disappearance of John and Liz Calvert. Gerwing was the Calvert’s accountants, and they apparently confronted Gerwing and disappeared just a week before Gerwing’s apparent suicide. 

3. Judge Richard Gergel Told Strauss To Report Himself to ODC in 2019 

In 2019, Judge Richard Gergel — the federal judge overseeing the Murdaugh, Fleming, and Russell Laffitte matters — was tasked with figuring out why millions of dollars of the Carpoffs’ money was put into Strauss’s account and who it belonged to. Strauss, when questioned, repeatedly invoked his fifth amendment right. According to court transcripts, Gergel told Strauss he would report Strauss to the office of disciplinary counsel and encouraged Strauss to self-report. It is unclear if any ODC reports were ever made or investigated.

4. Strauss Was Allowed to Travel to Mexico While on Bond 

Strauss, whose bond was an unsecured $100,000, got Judge Gergel to approve a trip to Mexico via private plane for his second wedding anniversary. Not only was he allowed to travel while on bond, the government allowed him to leave the country without a GPS monitoring device. 

5. We Don’t Know What Strauss’s Sentence Will Be

The single charge of removal of property to prevent seizure is a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison followed by up to three years of supervised probation and a $250,000 fine. Liz’s sources have also indicated that the government’s cooperation with Strauss’s request to go to Mexico and his lax bond terms imply that Strauss has information the government wants — which means Strauss may be able to use information he has as a bargaining chip to lessen his punishment. A sentencing hearing will be set after Gergel reviews a pre-sentencing report compiled by the US Probation Office. 

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Contact Beth Braden

Beth Braden

Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist with experience covering government, education and crime and courts for more than 10 years. In addition to following breaking news and writing feature stories about life in her home state of Tennessee, her by-line appears on several internationally known websites.

Beth is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and she loves to pore over public records and court documents as she seeks out patterns and context to share with her audience. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.

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