Disgraced banker Russell Laffitte was found guilty on six criminal counts he was charged with in U.S. District Court. His was the first trial tied to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
Laffitte was found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud as well as guilty of three counts of misapplying bank funds. He faces up to thirty years in prison and millions of dollars in fines in connection with those convictions. For more on the potential prison time Laffitte is facing – and the process by which his sentence will be eventually be determined – click here.
At the time of his conviction in November, U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel declined to modify the bond conditions which were set for him before the trial. There had been considerable speculation as to whether Gergel would remand Laffitte to the custody of the federal government pending his sentencing hearing.
He declined to do so …
Laffitte, 51, of Hampton, S.C., is the former chief executive officer of Palmetto State Bank (PSB). He was fired from his post at the financial institution in January as his role in a myriad of scams tied to disbarred attorney/ accused killer Alex Murdaugh began to become clear. In addition to the federal charges he was found guilty of on Tuesday, there are still numerous Murdaugh-related state charges pending against Laffitte.
Prior to the trial, Laffitte had reached an agreement with the federal government to testify in future prosecutions related to this ongoing investigation. That deal collapsed, though, when Laffitte balked at the estimated 4-5 years in prison prosecutors were insisting upon, according to my sources.
The gist of all the allegations against Laffitte? That he profited by helping Murdaugh rip off his clients – and then helped Murdaugh cover his tracks with loans that never should have been issued and payouts that never should have been made.
On December 7, 2022, Laffitte’s attorneys filed a motion for a new trial – and for a judgement of acquittal – on behalf of their client following the guilty verdicts handed down against him.
Their rationale? As expected, the motion asserted Laffitte’s constitutional rights were violated when Gergel replaced two jurors at the eleventh hour during a pivotal point in their negotiations.
“Following nearly ten hours of deliberations, two jurors were improperly dismissed and replaced with alternates, only to have a newly constituted jury return a guilty verdict forty minutes later,” the filing (.pdf) noted. “One of those jurors requested removal based on her dissenting status, and the error in her
removal constitutes a miscarriage of justice.”
The appeal is still pending in U.S. District Court. Laffitte also faces a myriad of charges filed against him by the State grand jury for his alleged role in Murdaugh’s financial crimes.