Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh is expected to plead guilty to all 22 counts pending against him when he appears in federal court on Sept. 21.
Those charges allege that Murdaugh stole millions of dollars from his clients and Palmetto State Bank starting as early as July 2011 by diverting settlement funds into his personal accounts, borrowing money from settlement accounts, and stealing by way of the “Fake Forge” plan that allowed him to steal settlement funds by creating a similarly named account to Forge Consulting where he deposited some of his clients’ money.
The federal indictment was initially handed down in May 2023, and Murdaugh entered a “not-guilty” plea, though defense attorney Jim Griffin told the court then that they expected to change the plea “in the very near future.”
In the nearly four months since Murdaugh entered that guilty plea, his co-conspirators Cory Fleming and Russell Laffitte have received their federal sentences, and Fleming has pleaded guilty to more than 20 financial crimes in state court. Fleming has been in federal custody since his sentencing on Aug. 15. Laffitte, who has a pending appeal, is due to surrender himself to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Sept. 21, but he has requested an extension to delay his report date.
As for Murdaugh’s federal plea, the 22 counts include:
- 1 count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud
- 1 count of bank fraud
- 5 counts of wire fraud
- 1 count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
- 14 counts of money laundering
Part of the plea agreement includes a paragraph stating in part that Murdaugh will “…provide full, complete, and truthful information about all criminal activities which he/she has knowledge …”
The government is also stipulating that Murdaugh consent to polygraph testing.
It is unknown how Murdaugh’s documented history of lying will affect his ability to comply with the terms of his federal plea agreement. While he was on trial for the murder of his wife and younger son, Murdaugh admitted to lying about his actions on the night of the murders and blamed his alleged painkiller addiction for making him paranoid as police started asking questions.
If Murdaugh is not truthful with the federal government, the plea agreement explicitly states that it would “cause the obligations of the government within this agreement to become null and void.”
For its part, the government will recommend that the federal sentence for financial crimes be served concurrently to any state sentence for financial crimes. The government is also requiring Murdaugh to forfeit $9 million.
While Murdaugh is pleading guilty in the federal financial case, a Nov. 27 trial on the state financial charges was set during a status hearing in Beaufort County last week. While Murdaugh faced 22 counts in federal court, there are more than 100 finance-related charges pending against him in state court.
Contact Beth Braden
Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist whose mastery of the deep dive is evident in her work.
In addition to Braden’s experience writing about local government, crime and courts, and engaging features from her home state of Tennessee, her byline appears on several internationally-known websites. She is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and loves to pore over public records.
Braden joined Luna Shark Media in 2023 armed with a love of truth as she seeks out data from the darkest places, drags it into the light, and provides illuminating analysis. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.
Please sign into your Premium account then refresh this page to view this content.