Alex Murdaugh’s conviction and sentencing for the murder of his wife and son have not slowed investigations into his other alleged criminal activities. Late last week, as this news outlet exclusively reported, the South Carolina statewide grand jury indicted Murdaugh on two additional counts of willfully attempting to “evade or defeat a tax” – with prosecutors alleging he failed to report $2,223,067 of income earned in 2020 and 2021 through illegal acts, thereby defrauding Palmetto State taxpayers of an estimated $132,572.
A Colleton County jury found Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, on June 7, 2021 at Moselle, the family’s hunting property. His trial – the main event of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – garnered international attention given his status as a member of one of the Palmetto State’s most influential legal dynasties. Three generations of Murdaughs – including Alex’s late father, Randolph Murdaugh III – held the post of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor between 1920-2006. Murdaugh himself was a badge-carrying assistant solicitor at the time of his spectacular unraveling in 2021.
Now? He’s at an undisclosed location within the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) system – receiving stalker mail from his legions of unhinged admirers.
How did we get here?
Prosecutors theorize Murdaugh murdered his family members in the hopes of postponing a day of reckoning regarding his alleged “schemes to defraud” victims of nearly $9 million. Prior to his murder trial, Murdaugh was already facing nearly a hundred criminal charges related to those alleged schemes. This was not the first time the grand jury indicted Murdaugh on tax charges, either. Last December, he was accused of failing to report nearly $7 million of income “earned through illegal acts” between 2011-2019. According to prosecutors, this failure to report deprived the state of nearly $500,000 in revenue.
All told, Murdaugh is accused of costing the state nearly $620,000.
Our recently updated chart shows Murdaugh’s income peaked in 2012 when he reported an adjusted gross income of $5,285,616. This coincides with several large settlements he obtained at the time representing clients whom he later fleeced, according to . His gross income in the years following decreased dramatically.
According to S.C. Code of Laws (§ 12-54-44), it is a crime in the Palmetto State “to evade or defeat a tax or property assessment imposed by a title administered by the (state) or the payment of that tax or property assessment.”
On each felony count of willful tax evasion, Murdaugh faces up to five years in prison, fines of up to $10,000 as well as restitution and the cost of prosecution. As previously noted, the state tax evasion charges point to yet another instance in which Murdaugh is all but assured of facing federal charges – although as of this writing, his former banker Russell Laffitte remains the only individual charged at the federal level in connection with this maze of financial fleecing.
Laffitte was convicted of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and three counts of misapplying bank funds last month related to his role in Murdaugh-related scams. He is currently out of custody and awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of his appeal.
According to a news release from the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – who is leading the Murdaugh prosecutions – this new indictment brings the total number of financial charges Murdaugh is facing to 101. To date, the statewide grand jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud victims of $8,789,447 (not counting the aforementioned $619,391 he allegedly denied state taxpayers).
In addition to the financial crimes he stands accused of committing, Murdaugh is also staring down drug charges and allegations of obstruction of justice tied to a fatal 2019 boat crash involving his late son. He and one of his check cashers, Curtis “Eddie” Smith, are also facing fraud charges tied to a bizarre roadside shooting incident on Labor Day weekend in September of 2021 that attracted international headlines.
Smith was recently released from a Midlands, South Carolina detention center after Newman reinstated his bond for cooperating with prosecutors during Murdaugh’s double homicide trial.
THE INDICTMENT …filed-indictment-2023-gs-47-03-colleton-april-2023-03271726xd2c78
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is the director of research at FITSNews. She is also a producer on our Cheer Incorporated podcast and our resident expert on the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga. Wood is a wife and mother of two residing in Louisiana, but she will be in the Palmetto State for the duration of the upcoming double homicide trial. Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [email protected].
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