Connect with us

Murdaughs

‘He Stole Every Dime I Had’: Judge To Issue Written Decision In Alex Murdaugh’s Action-Packed Bond Hearing

Shocking testimony and angry arguments in today’s hearing.

Published

on

by  LIZ FARRELL and MANDY MATNEY ||

Four weeks after Judge Alison Lee set Alex Murdaugh‘s bond at $7 million — with no option to pay 10 percent — the disgraced former attorney and his defense team appeared before Lee again Monday afternoon to ask her to reduce bond.

After an hour and a half of tense arguments from the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and Murdaugh’s attorneys, as well as testimony from witnesses, Lee informed the court that she would issue her ruling in writing before adjourning.

The dramatic hearing included testimony from John T. Lay, who is one of the attorneys assigned to comb through Murdaugh’s frozen assets; Eric Bland and Justin Bamberg, attorneys for several alleged victims of Murdaugh; and a South Carolina Highway Patrol lieutenant who was injured in the line of duty and went to Murdaugh for help with a workman’s compensation claim.

During the hearing, Murdaugh’s attorney state Sen. Dick Harpootlian told Lee — who has faced criticism for setting lenient bonds — to “do what she’s done.”

Harpootlian requested a five-figure bond for Murdaugh with the option to pay “up to 10 percent.”

The prosecution asked for the judge to keep the bond at $7 million with no option to pay 10 percent.

When Lee’s decision becomes available, we will publish it on FITSNews.com.

In powerful testimony, Lt. Thomas E. Moore told the court that Murdaugh was always nice to him and he trusted him. Now, he has to face the fact that his attorney took advantage of him and stole money that he needed for his recovery.

“Here’s the problem …,” Moore said. “He treated me that nice — and he stole every dime I had from the injury occurred, I was working for the Highway Patrol, and was struck by a car and had to have three levels of my neck repaired, two levels fused, and one has artificial disc. And now there’s permanent nerve damage. There’s no question about that. And the injury is only going to get worse, it’s not going to get better.”

Moore spoke about the permanent injuries he suffered, his monthly medical bills and the financial distress he is dealing with because Murdaugh stole from his settlement.


He said he is only working right now because he has to.

Moore also questioned how someone like Alex who supposedly has no money has two of the most expensive defense attorneys in South Carolina representing him.

“So I guess my thing is, if he didn’t have money, like some people are saying, and there’s so many questions about money, how does he have all these attorneys? These attorneys I’ve seen on TV and in the newspaper, but I couldn’t afford the hire them,” Moore said.

He shockingly told the judge that if Alex Murdaugh were to be released today, he wouldn’t be surprised if Murdaugh or one of his family members showed up at his house with a gun.

Moore said that if Murdaugh is released, he will either disappear, flee or “there will be more victims.”

Jailhouse Calls and Busted Knuckles

During the hearing, prosecutor Creighton Waters made several references to Murdaugh’s jailhouse phone calls, in which the state accused him of behaving like a man who believed he had access to his assets, noting that Murdaugh mentioned his $2.2 million retirement account and even told a family member to go ahead and spend money on golf.

“Those jail calls don’t seem to be from someone one who is destitute, who has less than $10,000,” prosecutor Creighton Waters said. “It’s very clear he is telling relatives go ahead and spend money. ‘I’ve already worked it out, I’m going to pay you back.’”

Waters said Alex Murdaugh is heard on jailhouse phone calls telling family members to spend money because “he has it worked out.” Specifically, Alex is heard on the phone telling relatives “you need me to send you $4,000 or $5,000 for golf? I don’t want you to play golf without at least being able to get some drinks at the bar and a souvenir shirt.”

In another call, Waters said Murdaugh is heard telling someone else that a relative is loaning him money.

Murdaugh’s attorney state Sen. Dick Harpootlian also mentioned the jailhouse calls, referencing Murdaugh’s instructions to a family member to make a check payable to another inmate’s commissary account.

He said the $60 a week limit on commissary account deposits at Richland County Detention Center was challenging to Murdaugh.

“He’d like to get some more underwear,” Harpootlian said.

At times during the hearing, Harpootlian appeared to lose his temper and even berated Waters, accusing the state of using Murdaugh’s 48 financial charges as a “distraction” from their failure to solve the June murders of Murdaugh’s wife and son.

Before testimony from Murdaugh’s alleged victims, Harpootlian dismissed what they had to say as the “Same old song and dance.”

A statement that the patrolman, Lt. Thomas E. Moore, and attorney Eric Bland, who represents the Satterfield family, both took issue with in their testimonies.

Harpootlian insisted that Murdaugh was entitled to a lower bond and not a flight risk or a danger to community.

Still images taken during the hearing show that Murdaugh appeared to have a black eye and busted-up knuckles (see below).

No mention was made during the hearing about Murdaugh’s apparent injuries.

’He is not a danger to the community’

Calling media coverage of Murdaugh’s alleged crimes “paparazzi,” Harpootlian lashed out several times during the hearing and said that things had been “ginned up so much in the press that it’s denied Mr. Murdaugh the same treatment” as everyone else.

“He’s being punished because of his position in his community,” he told the judge, saying that he hoped Murdaugh’s bond would be reduced to five-figures with the ability to pay “up to 10 percent.”

“He is not a flight risk. He is not a danger to the community.”

In his arguments, Harpootlian used Bernie Madoff as an example of an accused criminal whose bond was nowhere near the amount he stole.

Murdaugh is accused of taking more than $6.2 million from clients and his law firm so far. His bond was set at $7 million.

“Bernie Madoff stole $65 billion. His bond was $10 million,” Harpootlian said.

Bamberg — who represents several victims, including the family of a deaf quadriplegic man from whom Murdaugh allegedly stole — said, “Bernie Madoff isn’t a South Carolina lawyer. Bernie Madoff didn’t live in South Carolina.”

During Bamberg’s testimony, Harpootlian, attorney Jim Griffin and a third man — who were on mute — appeared to laugh and giggle.

One of the biggest arguments during the hearing, was over Murdaugh’s assets and his access to that money.

Murdaugh’s attorneys maintain that Murdaugh is broke and entitled to a bond within his means.

They opened the hearing by calling for testimony from attorney John T. Lay, one of the co-receivers assigned by Judge Daniel Hall this past fall in the 2019 Mallory Beach wrongful death case against Murdaugh.

Lay and his co-receiver, Peter McCoy, recently submitted their first quarterly report on their findings.

Despite Harpootlian’s repeated assertions over the past month that Murdaugh has less than $10,000 in his bank account and “limited assets,” Lay told the court about what most would consider to be significant assets, including a $2.2 million retirement account, a $360,000 retirement account from his father, other “substantial” inheritance from his father, the proceeds from his wife’s estate, as well as real estate of “substantial value.”

”So even if there are substantial assets they’re mortgaged, they’re not liquid?,” Murdaugh’s attorney state Sen. Dick Harpootlian asked, noting that if Lay or McCoy “got a whiff” that Murdaugh was trying to borrow against any of the assets, they would be alerted.

Waters said Murdaugh is accused of stealing over $6.2 million and $2.5 million of that money was cashed out.

“The investigation has uncovered that a substantial portion of that money was returned to Alex Murdaugh,” Waters said.

All told, though, he said the amount of money cashed out — and potentially returned to Murdaugh — since 2015 is closer to $3.7 million.

Lay advised the court that Hall would decide whether Murdaugh could use any of his assets to pay for bond, but said that he and McCoy would object to any such request.

‘A man who cannot pay his phone bill’

During the hearing, Murdaugh maintained a steady look of consternation on his masked face.

Murdaugh faces 51 charges related to financial crimes and his alleged suicide-for-hire insurance fraud incident Labor Day weekend. According to the indictments that have already been issued, he is accused of stealing more than $6.2 million in alleged schemes dating back to 2016.

Last Tuesday, Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a 17-page motion pleading for a bond reduction (see below) and claiming their client has less than $10,000 in his bank accounts.

In the motion — which was filed the day before FITSNews’ bombshell report about direct physical evidence linking Murdaugh to the murders of his wife and son — Harpootlian and Griffin argue that Murdaugh is not charged with violent offenses and therefore has a “constitutional right” to be released on bail in an “amount no higher than necessary to insure his presence at trial.”

“Mr. Murdaugh is a man who cannot pay his phone bill,” they wrote in their motion.

Murdaugh was arrested Oct. 14 in Florida and shortly after was incarcerated at the Richland County Detention Center, where he remains.

He was initially denied bond Oct. 19 on two charges of Breach of Trust for his alleged role in a scheme to steal $4.3 million from the family of the woman who helped raise his children for more than 20 years.

In response, Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a writ of habeas corpus with the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Murdaugh’s assets were placed into a receivership on Nov. 2 by the judge in the Mallory Beach wrongful death lawsuit, in which Murdaugh and his son, Buster, are co-defendants.

The receivership was requested by Beach attorney Mark Tinsley, who argued that the receivership is necessary for the many victims in this case to get justice. Tinsley said that it’s possible that there are more victims — like the Satterfield  family — who were allegedly duped by Alex Murdaugh and are waiting to sue him. 

Since that hearing, Murdaugh has been charged with 48 counts (see here and here) and stands accused of stealing from 10 more clients and his law firm.

Multiple sources have told FITSNews that Murdaugh will face more indictments from the state grand jury this month and that we should expect to see one or more co-conspirator charged.

Attorney Justin Bamberg, a nationally recognized civil rights attorney from Bamberg, South Carolina, is now representing eight victims of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes.

Last week, FITSNews exclusively reported one of the most shocking stories we have heard in the Murdaugh Murdaughs Saga so Far — the story of Hakeem Pinkney, whose family is now being represented by Bamberg.

Pinckney was a deaf man who suffered horrific injuries in a 2009 car accident that left him quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator. He died mysteriously in 2011 after someone apparently unplugged his ventilator, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the law firm.

Murdaugh and his co-conspirators are accused of stealing approximately $1 million from the Pinckney family between 2011 and 2017, according to Bamberg.

“It’s just like the Satterfield case, but seven years before,” Bamberg told FITSNews this week. “It shows that these guys can’t say they were fooled by Murdaugh in the Satterfield case. It’s a pattern.”

*****

ABOUT THE AUTHOR..

Mandy Matney

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].

*****

ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Provided)

Liz Farrell is the new executive editor at FITSNews. She was named 2018’s top columnist in the state by South Carolina Press Association and is back after taking a nearly two-year break from corporate journalism to reclaim her soul. Email her at [email protected] or tweet her @ElizFarrell.

*****

WANNA SOUND OFF?

Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.

*****

GET SOUTH CAROLINA’S LATEST NEWS IN YOUR INBOX …

*****

*****

WANNA SOUND OFF?

Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.

Advertisement
Comments