Attorneys representing Russell Laffitte – the former Palmetto State Bank (PSB) leader who was convicted of six federal financial crimes last fall – filed a motion for a new trial after his alleged co-conspirator Alex Murdaugh attempted to exonerate Laffitte from the witness stand during his double homicide trial.
Laffitte abused his position of power both as a bank executive and personal representative by extending Murdaugh hundreds of thousands of dollars of improperly documented loans and generous overdraft protection. In his second motion for a new trial (.pdf), however, his new attorneys argued the exposition of new evidence entitled him to re-litigate those charges.
Financial improprieties involving Laffitte played an important role in Murdaugh’s recently concluded trial for the murders of his wife Maggie Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh – with prosecutors contending his state of financial duress motivated the brutal killings.
When Murdaugh elected to take the stand in his own defense, he opened himself up to multiple questions about his financial crimes. In response to those questions, Murdaugh repeatedly told jurors he lied to and stole from numerous friends, family and clients – but insisted the crimes were committed by him and him alone.
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“I don’t dispute any of this, that I took money that didn’t belong to me, that I misled people that trusted me,” Murdaugh told the court.
Importantly for Laffitte, Murdaugh claimed he acted alone.
“Russell Laffitte never conspired with me to do anything, whatever was done was done by me,” he said. “This is stuff that I did. I did these things wrong. Russell Laffitte didn’t do anything … you keep talking about stuff I did with Russell Laffitte, but what I want to let you know is that I did this and I am the one that took people’s money that I shouldn’t have taken and that Russell Laffitte was not involved in helping me do that knowingly.”
“If he did it, he did it without knowing it,” Murdaugh added.
Murdaugh certainly went to bat for the convicted fraudster, but even if his statements were deemed sufficiently credible so as to justify a new trial, they still fail to explain transactions effectuated by Laffitte.
Among those transactions? The issuance of a $650,000 check to the law firm of Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick law firm (PMPED) after PSB executives uncovered Murdaugh and Laffitte’s fraud. Laffitte arranged this payment independently, and as a jury of his peers concluded … illegally.
This filing comes just days after U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel denied Laffitte’s first motion for a new trial. This first motion, filed by Laffitte’s former attorneys – Bart Daniel and Matt Austin – was based on the questionable dismissal of two jurors by Gergel after hours of deliberations.
According to the initial filing (.pdf), these two jurors were “improperly dismissed”.
Assuming Gergel also denies this motion, Laffitte’s next stop would be the appellate court, where he hopes his new attorneys Mark Moore and Michael Parente of the Nexsen Pruet law firm can leverage their outside perspective on the juror swap to successfully argue Laffitte had his rights violated.
The prosecutorial team in this case – led by assistant U.S. attorneys Emily Limehouse and Winston Holliday – were able to present compelling evidence during Laffitte’s trial that he must have been aware of the crimes he committed.
The government has until March 20 to file its response to Laffitte’s latest motion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Coleman Rojhan)
Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Dylan primarily covers education when he isn’t producing video content. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.
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