With federal prosecutors on the verge of resting their case against disgraced South Carolina banker Russell Laffitte – the first criminal trial tied to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – an interesting undercard battle has emerged.
During cross-examination of a witness during yesterday’s proceedings in Charleston, S.C., Laffitte’s lawyer – former U.S. attorney Bart Daniel – accused Columbia, S.C.-based attorney Eric Bland and his law partner, Ronnie Richter, of “trolling for clients.”
Bland was enraged.
“This is now the second time Bart Daniel has accused my partner and me of trolling for cases,” Bland tweeted. “That’s not what we do. We do hard work and clients and other attorneys call us for their cases. We don’t do champerty.”
“Three strikes and that small man is out and then I will surface,” Bland added.
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In another tweet, Bland slammed Daniel for being “sanctimonious at a time when he should be focusing on the defense of his client.”
Bland co-hosts ‘Cup of Justice,’ a spinoff of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ podcast launched last June by two former reporters at this news outlet. His firm also represented several of the alleged victims of Laffitte and disbarred attorney/ accused killer Alex Murdaugh – who is staring down a host of criminal charges at the state level in connection with this scandal.
Specifically, Bland’s firm represented Alania Plyler-Spohn and Hannah Plyler – sisters who were passengers in a 1999 Ford Explorer that crashed on July 16, 2005 on Interstate 95 following a tire tread separation. The accident killed their mother, Angela, and brother, Justin – and left Alania and Hannah with serious injuries.
Laffitte, 51, of Hampton, S.C., has been accused by federal prosecutors of giving himself eight loans from Hannah Plyler’s account beginning in July 2011. Starting in September 2011, prosecutors say the former chief executive of Palmetto State Bank (PSB) gave Murdaugh a total of 14 loans from the same account.
Bland’s firm also represented Tony Satterfield – son of former Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died during a suspicious trip-and-fall at the family’s hunting property in February of 2018.
More than three years later, this same 1,700-acre property along the Salkehatchie River would play host to a brutal double homicide in which Alex Murdaugh savagely murdered his wife and younger son, according to state prosecutors.
Murdaugh is scheduled to stand trial on those murder charges in January in Colleton County, S.C.
Federal prosecutors led by Emily Limehouse have yet to charge Murdaugh criminally in connection with the alleged financial crimes detailed at the Laffitte trial, but based on the evidence and testimony submitted during the government’s compelling case against the disgraced banker it seems highly likely such charges are forthcoming.
The only question? Whether Daniel and fellow defense attorney Matt Austin are able to prove that a “broader conspiracy” existed beyond Laffitte and Murdaugh – which was the implication behind all those pre-trial revelations regarding audio recordings made by Laffitte.
How proving such a conspiracy will help their client at this point is unclear … but that’s really the only remaining thread hanging from this trial, which so far has been nothing short of a slam dunk for prosecutors.
RUSSELL LAFFITTE TRIAL COVERAGE
(Via: Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews)
DAY 1: REVELATIONS ON FIRST DAY OF TRIAL
DAY 1: LAFFITTE TRIAL EXPOSING MURDAUGH MOTIVE FOR MURDER
DAY 2: PROSECUTORS ZERO IN ON RUSSELL LAFFITTE
DAY 3: ALEX MURDAUGH WILLING TO TESTIFY AT LAFFITTE TRIAL
DAY 4: RUSSELL LAFFITTE DROPS SECOND HALF OF HIS INTERVIEW
DAY 5: RUSSELL LAFFITTE TRIAL CONTINUES IN CHARLESTON
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Phillippe Randolph Folks)
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.
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