Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors this week addressing nearly two dozen federal charges filed against him in May of this year. The agreement comes just days before Murdaugh is scheduled to appear in U.S. district court in Charleston, South Carolina to change his plea on the federal charges he is facing to “guilty.”
Murdaugh is also facing more than 100 state charges tied to his myriad financial fleecings of former clients, friends, family members and law partners. A status conference in that case was held last week in Beaufort, S.C., where Murdaugh is tentatively scheduled to stand trial in November of this year.
The federal charges against him stem from cases covered extensively during the November 2022 federal trial of convicted white collar criminal Russell Laffitte – who was found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and three counts of misapplying bank funds for his role in multiple Murdaugh-related fleecings.
Laffitte – who was sentenced to seven years in federal prison last month – is also facing numerous state charges.
Other charges against Murdaugh stem from the fleecing of two insurance companies (Lloyd’s of London and Nautilus) following the death of Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, on his family hunting property. Murdaugh’s co-conspirator in that case, former Beaufort attorney Cory Fleming, has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced at both the state and federal level.
The charges against Murdaugh outlined in the plea agreement (.pdf) are related to wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Assuming the deal is approved by U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel, Murdaugh would spend thirty years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Murdaugh would also pay a fine of $1 million, make restitution to all the victims of his financial crimes and forfeit no less than $9 million in assets.
“The Defendant agrees to make full restitution … which amount is not limited to the count(s) to which the Defendant pled guilty, but will include restitution to each and every identifiable victim who may have been harmed by his scheme or pattern of criminal activity,” the agreement states.
The monetary penalties assessed are due immediately and cannot be sidestepped by bankruptcy. Further, as part of the agreement, Murdaugh agrees to cooperate with the government to identify all victims – and to make full restitution in an amount that will be determined by the court at sentencing.
Does he have such assets at his disposal? Not the last time we checked …
(Click to view)
Murdaugh is the central figure in the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga. 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 – and past president of the influential S.C. trial lawyers lobby. The “House of Murdaugh” ran the Palmetto Lowcounty like a fiefdom for nearly a century – dispensing justice as it saw fit.
That fiefdom began to collapse in February 2019, however, when Murdaugh’s youngest son – the late Paul Murdaugh – allegedly crashed a boat belonging to his father into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. The crash killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C. – and exposed the Murdaugh family to the white hot glare of the statewide limelight for the first time. It also led to the filing of a high-profile wrongful death lawsuit which threatened to expose Murdaugh’s financial misdeeds.
According to state prosecutors, this “gathering storm” led to Murdaugh deciding to brutally murder his son Paul and his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, at Moselle – the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties.
Murdaugh was convicted of those murders in March of this year and sentenced to consecutive life terms by circuit court judge Clifton Newman. He is currently appealing those convictions – and is also demanding a new trial on the basis of alleged jury tampering.
(Click to view)
As noted, a minimum of $9 million in Murdaugh’s assets will be voluntarily surrendered and the forfeiture of these assets will not be contested. He is expected to help identify these assets and to submit to a polygraph regarding this disclosure if necessary. Forfeited assets may be used for restitution – but the government is not required to use them for that purpose.
Murdaugh further agreed to cooperate with law enforcement about any criminal activities of which he is aware, including providing information and testimony if necessary. This includes submitting to polygraph examinations.
Where could his “cooperation” prove invaluable? Lots of cases …
Failure to comply with any part of the agreement would void the government’s obligations without providing Murdaugh the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea. Any unwillingness to cooperate, lack of truthfulness, or failure to take a polygraph and Murdaugh could find himself facing the maximum sentence.
In exchange for his full cooperation, the sentence imposed would be served concurrent to any state sentence for the same conduct.
By signing the agreement, Murdaugh is waiving double jeopardy, along with his right to contest a conviction, appeal the sentence, or to request or receive records pertaining to the investigation or prosecution – including those available to him under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
THE PLEA DEAL …
(Via: U.S. District Court)
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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