Convicted killer Richard Alex Murdaugh will soon add the title of convicted fraudster to his name. The infamous South Carolina lawyer-turned-family annihilator is expected to change his “not guilty” federal court plea to “guilty” at a hearing scheduled for next month.
Murdaugh’s “change of plea” hearing has been set for 10:00 a.m. EDT on September 21, 2023 at the Waring Judicial Center in Charleston, S.C. with district court judge Richard Gergel scheduled to preside over the proceedings.
In March of this year, a Colleton County jury convicted Murdaugh – 55, of Hampton, S.C. – of savagely killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and his younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the family’s hunting compound, known locally as Moselle. The jury deliberated for only a few hours before returning its verdict. On March 3, 2023, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences.
Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal on March 9, 2023.
On May 24, 2023, it was announced that a federal grand jury had returned a 22-count indictment against Murdaugh for conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering for various schemes he concocted to defraud clients of settlement funds from at least September 2005 until October 2021.
On May 31, 2023, Murdaugh entered a plea of not guilty. Since that time, his attorneys – state senator Dick Harpootlian, Jim Griffin, Phillip Barber and Margaret Fox have met with the court on several occasions – likely in an effort to negotiate a deal.
Today’s announcement Murdaugh would be changing his plea – while not a complete surprise – presaged the first formal admission of guilt on his part in any criminal proceeding. Well, aside from his testimony during his double homicide trial earlier this year in which he admitted stealing millions of dollars from former clients, law partners, family members and friends over a period of more than a dozen years.
In addition to his 22 federal charges, Murdaugh is also staring down at least 100 additional state charges – most dealing with financial crimes. Just yesterday, during a hearing in Williamsburg County, S.C., judge Newman scheduled a status conference for these cases in mid-September in Beaufort County, S.C.
Newman is also set to hold a sentencing hearing for one of Murdaugh’s accomplices – disgraced Beaufort, S.C. attorney Cory Fleming. The godfather of Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, Fleming has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to four years in prison at the federal level. Yesterday, he pleaded guilty at the state level to his role in Murdaugh’s many fleecings.
Another co-conspirator – disgraced banker Russell Laffitte – was sentenced to seven years in federal prison earlier this month for his role in the various Murdaugh-related scandals. Laffitte is also facing more than twenty state charges related to the Murdaugh saga.
State and federal attorneys have been battling for months over the financial charges against Murdaugh and his co-conspirators. In fact, prosecutors in the offices of South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson and U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs have been “at war” since mid-spring – with state prosecutors accusing the feds of “copying” their work in this case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.
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