Agents investigating the public corruption angle of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ true crime saga conducted interviews this week with a pair of former interns at the once-prestigious Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) law firm – now known as the Parker Law Group.
According to my sources, agents with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) interviewed two “runners” (one current and one former) with the firm this week as part of the various ongoing investigations into 53-year-old attorney Alex Murdaugh and his network of alleged criminal accomplices.
Murdaugh, his influential family and the powerful law firm it founded in Hampton, S.C. over a century ago are at the center of a mushrooming Southern Gothic crime drama – the depths of which we have only just begun to plumb.
Murdaugh is already staring down dozens of criminal charges at the state level – most of them revolving around allegations that he and his network of associates swindled former clients out of nearly $8.9 million.
Anyway … back to the lede. “Runners” are glorified interns at larger law firms tasked with all manner of menial duties – including serving as couriers for the attorneys to whom they are assigned. They are responsible for quickly and discreetly delivering documents, messages, checks and other packages – never asking questions as to what may be inside the envelopes under their arms.
The two PMPED runners interviewed this week by SLED – 22-year-old Austin Harter and 22-year-old Nate Tuten – were both assigned to Alex Murdaugh during his tenure at the firm.
Harter is no longer employed by the firm, however Tuten still works there. In fact, sources inside the firm tell me his hours were recently increased. Tuten is a student at the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie. He dreams of one day attending the University of South Carolina law school.
Hmmmm … somebody get Murdaugh attorney Butch Bowers on the phone, right?
Of interest? Tuten’s name appeared in a deposition tied to the high-profile Mallory Beach civil suit – which was filed in the aftermath of a February 2019 boat crash (and which features Alex Murdaugh as a prominent defendant).
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Tuten was not a passenger on the boat owned by Alex Murdaugh which crashed into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. shortly after 2:00 a.m. EDT on February 24, 2019.
The crash killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C. and injured several other passengers. Alex Murdaugh’s late son, Paul Murdaugh, was reportedly driving the 17-foot, center console Sea Hunt fishing boat at the time it slammed into the piling. Prior to his violent death last spring, Paul Murdaugh was facing multiple criminal charges in connection with this crash – and could have found himself on the hook for additional charges.
Meanwhile, his father remains at the heart of an ongoing obstruction of justice inquiry launched in the aftermath of the crash.
Harter and Tuten – both of whom could be called before the statewide grand jury soon – were questioned on the heels of testimony reportedly provided to grand jurors by Jeanne Seckinger, PMPED’s controller.
Seckinger has appeared before the statewide grand jury at least once, sources familiar with the inquiry told me – although it is not immediately clear what she was asked (or how she answered).
Readers will recall PMPED claimed to have learned of Murdaugh’s alleged financial misdeeds on September 2, 2021. The firm also sued Murdaugh the following month – claiming he stole more than $10 million from its coffers.
Those claims were greeted with suspicion among those investigating the Murdaugh empire … especially now that the firm has been implicated in some of the alleged chicanery.
What were Harter and Tuten asked? And how did they respond? My sources did not provide much in the way of specific information about their interrogations – although I am informed the two young men took vastly different tacks in responding to investigators.
One particular question posed to both runners involved the delivery of payments – including checks and cash – to various recipients, one of whom is said to be a sitting state lawmaker. My sources declined to identify the lawmaker in question, however the handoff was reportedly described as a “campaign contribution.”
Another payout which raised red flags was reportedly made to a law enforcement officer, although this handoff was reportedly described as a “legitimate settlement” payout.
Really? If there is one thing all of us have learned about the Murdaughs over the last few months, it’s that nothing they have their fingers in is remotely “legitimate.”
To be clear: Neither Harter nor Austin have been implicated – let alone charged criminally – in connection with any of Murdaugh’s alleged crimes. Nor, for that matter, has anyone at his former law firm … yet.
Stay tuned … I plan on continuing to keep my readers in the loop on the very latest related to this ongoing true crime saga and the multiple investigations aimed at holding those involved accountable for their actions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats – including that Charleston RiverDogs’ “Perros Santos” lid pictured above.
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