Convicted fraudster Russell Laffitte will not remain a free man while he appeals his recent federal convictions – that’s the bottom line from an order issued Monday by U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel. That means the disgraced banker who conspired with convicted killer Alex Murdaugh to commit financial fraud must report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on September 28, 2023 to begin serving his 84-month sentence.
The order (.pdf) was filed September 20, 2023 – meaning Laffitte has until Thursday to turn himself into federal authorities.
Laffitte was found guilty of six federal counts on November 22, 2022. He has remained free for the past ten months on bond pending his sentencing. Laffitte is also facing a litany of state charges related to his role in Murdaugh’s admitted fleecings.
The former chief executive officer of Palmetto State Bank (PSB), Laffitte profited from helping Murdaugh rip off multiple clients – and then helped Murdaugh cover his tracks with loans that never should have been issued and payouts that never should have been made.
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Millions of dollars were involved in these scams … which unfolded over a span of nearly a decade.
Since his conviction, Laffitte has tried everything his multiple teams of attorneys could dream up to delay or evade imprisonment. Twice his legal teams filed motions for a new trial – and twice they were denied.
Most recently, Laffitte sought to avoid beginning his prison sentence while his appeals process moved forward.
Assistant U.S. attorney Emily Limehouse called Laffitte “a man of extraordinary privilege” following his sentencing on the federal crimes last month. Laffitte received seven years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release and an order to make restitution to his victims in the amount of $3.56 million.
Laffitte’s legal team signaled their intention to appeal his sentence with a filing before the U.S. fourth circuit on August 8, 2023. Six days later, a motion for release pending appeal was also submitted. A week after that – on August 21, 2023 – Laffitte and the government filed a consent order seeking an extension of one week for Laffitte to report to the federal prison system.
That gave him until September 21, 2023 – with the expectation that this time frame would be sufficient for the fourth circuit to review and address the pending appeal.
Last Wednesday (September 20, 2023), Laffitte’s counsel filed an emergency request for a status conference to hear arguments on another extension. A telephone conference was held and judge Gergel subsequently issued an order essentially determining that Laffitte did not meet the criteria to remain free pending his appeal.
“The general rule is that a defendant sentenced to a period of imprisonment who has filed an appeal ‘shall be detained’ unless the court finds that the appeal ‘raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal, an order for a new trial, a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment, or a reduced sentence,” Gergel’s order noted.
Since Laffitte does not meet these requirements – and with all other legal options exhausted – his time as a free man runs out September 28, 2023.
“No further extensions will be granted,” Gergel’s order noted.
THE ORDER …
(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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