I will have a detailed story up later today on some major developments in the federal case against disgraced former South Carolina banker Russell Laffitte – who is alleged to have been a key cog in the crumbling empire of accused killer/ disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh.
But first, there is some breaking news to report related to this case … which has been escalating in recent weeks.
According to my sources, U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel has scheduled an emergency hearing related to a piece of “critical evidence” that has emerged in the Laffitte proceedings. The hearing has been scheduled for 5:00 p.m. EDT today (October 6, 2022) in Charleston, S.C. – although it remains to be seen whether this confab will take place in open court or in the judge’s chambers.
This hearing related to this purported evidence was reportedly requested by Trenholm Walker, an attorney who is representing Palmetto State Bank (PSB) – where Laffitte was employed prior to his termination in January of this year.
Walker did not respond to a request for comment from this news outlet. Nor did Laffitte’s lawyers – former U.S. attorney Bart Daniel and former federal prosecutor Matt Austin.
According to my sources, Gergel will be asked at the emergency hearing to address an audio recording in which multiple PSB leaders are rumored to be implicated in some of the same criminal conduct of which Laffitte stands accused.
What is on this purported recording? It is not clear …
It is abundantly clear, however, that Walker and PSB do not want the audio recording released.
As of this writing, Laffitte remains the only person charged at the federal level in connection with the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – a still unspooling web of alleged criminality tied to Murdaugh, the scion of a powerful South Carolina family which for decades enjoyed near dictatorial control of a five-county region in the Palmetto Lowcountry.
Murdaugh’s case has attracted international attention in the aftermath of the June 7, 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the family’s Colleton County hunting property, known locally as Moselle.
Murdaugh has been charged with killing his wife and son. But he has also been charged by a statewide grand jury with 90 individual counts of alleged criminal activity involving “schemes to defraud victims” of $8.79 million.
In addition to his federal charges, Laffitte is also staring down state charges tied to these alleged schemes.
Last month, Laffitte’s attorneys filed a motion demanding “the production of all reports and associated documents related to any witnesses in the government’s investigation (against Laffitte) containing information or allegations of crimes or acts of moral turpitude, including fraud.”
“To the extent any allegations have been made that any of the government’s witnesses have engaged in crimes of moral turpitude, including fraud, the government must produce any reports or associated documents to Mr. Laffitte so that he may adequately prepare to defend himself at trial,” the motion (.pdf) noted.
As I noted in my report, this filing seemed to indicate “Laffitte knows (that) someone who is dropping dimes on him is guilty of conduct every bit as bad as what he has been accused of doing … perhaps worse.”
In his February 24, 2022 deposition tied to a Murdaugh-related wrongful death case, Laffitte made several comments related to others at PSB (including several of his own family members who occupy leadership positions at the bank).
Laffitte has reportedly told federal prosecutors on multiple occasions that all of the transactions leading to the current charges against him were approved by a majority of PSB’s executive committee – which at the time consisted of Laffitte, Gray Henderson, Charlie Laffitte, Norris Laffitte and Jan Malinowski.
Again, my news outlet is in the process of publishing an expansive report related to this case later today … so be on the lookout for that within the next couple of hours.
UPDATE: Charleston Feds Facing Scrutiny As Criminal Case Escalates
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 many hats – including that St. Louis Cardinals’ lid (with matching Stan Musial jersey) pictured above.
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