Hampton, South Carolina-based Palmetto State Bank has secured a multi-million dollar judgment against its former chief executive officer, Russell Laffitte – one of Alex Murdaugh‘s co-conspirators in a myriad of fraudulent schemes committed against Murdaugh’s legal clients.
Laffitte extended multiple loans to Murdaugh from client trust funds – keeping the attorney flush with cash and enabling him to cover large overdrafts on his bank accounts.
An abstract of judgment in the amount of $2,348,868.66 was filed in Hampton County on November 29, 2023. It states that the judgment was docketed in federal court on August 2, 2023.
Laffitte is currently in federal prison serving a seven-year sentence on related charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud and misappropriation of bank funds. He has yet to face trial for similar charges in state court.
The judgment, filed one day after Murdaugh’s sentencing for his state-level financial crimes, is being executed at a time when a list of claimants are vying for a portion of the funds Murdaugh stolen from them. Claims amounting to more than $160 million were filed last month with a court-appointed receivership – which at last count had available assets of $1.7 million to disburse.
Claimants will present their cases to a special referee on December 20 as the process of allocating the funds continues.
Meanwhile, the hunt is on for the rest of Murdaugh’s money. Some sources believe the funds were hidden in offshore accounts. His former law partners, the shareholders of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), are high on the list of those who want the money located and recovered. A recent filing indicates that the shareholders put up their own personal resources to cover the losses created by Murdaugh’s thefts from the firm and from clients of the firm.
RELATED | MURDAUGH’S MISSING MILLIONS
The matters involving Palmetto State Bank involve a different pile of money than the law firm losses. Instead of stealing directly from clients, Murdaugh and Laffitte conspired to move funds out of client trust accounts unbeknownst to those affected. Laffitte used the money to illegally extend loans to Murdaugh.
Perhaps the worst example of this pattern of behavior relates to the Plyler sisters, who lost their mother and brother in a car accident. Both minors at the time, millions of dollars in settlement funds were deposited with Palmetto State Bank and released only at the discretion of Laffitte – who acted as their personal representative. While he was supposed to be looking out for the interests of Hannah and Alaina Plyler, Laffitte was instead using their money to fund Murdaugh’s ongoing schemes and perpetual cash shortages.
Palmetto State Bank is looking to recover their losses with the judgment against Laffitte.
“Upon registering, recording, docketing, or indexing such abstract in accordance with the rules and requirements relating to judgments of the court of the State where the district court is located, the abstract of judgment shall be a lien on the property of the defendant located in such State in the same manner and to the same extent and under the same conditions as a judgment of a court of general jurisdiction in that State,” the abstract states.
To view the document for yourself, click on the link below …
THE JUDGMENT …
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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