The disbarred South Carolina attorney faces multiple federal charges including fraud and money laundering
Convicted murderer and former South Carolina attorney Richard “Alex” Murdaugh will plead guilty to 22 federal charges for crimes spanning more than a decade.
On Tuesday, outlets including CNN, USA Today and ABC News 4 reported that Murdaugh — who is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the murder of his wife Maggie Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh in June 2021 — has agreed to plead guilty to the 22 charges.
According to ABC News 4, Murdaugh's lawyer filed the plea agreement on Monday to federal court. The filing, obtained by the outlet, is signed by Murdaugh and details that "the defendant agrees to plead guilty to Counts 1 through 22 of the Indictment pending." This week's plea agreement comes after the outlet reported in May that Murdaugh had pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
Though it has been filed in South Carolina US District Court, the plea agreement is still to be approved by a judge, according to CNN.
The 22-count federal indictment issued in May includes charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and more. The charges are punishable by maximum sentences of in some cases 20 years, and in others, 30 years, as well as fines that could total millions of dollars.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina, the indictment alleges that in one scheme between "at least September 2005 until at least September 2021," Murdaugh "routed and redirected clients’ settlement funds to personally enrich himself," in multiple ways, including by "intercepting insurance proceeds intended for beneficiaries and depositing them directly into his personal account."
The indictment alleges that in "a second scheme" Murdaugh worked with his banker, Russell Laffitte, to use the settlement funds for his “personal benefit, including using the proceeds to pay off personal loans and for personal expenses and cash withdrawals.” The indictment also details allegations of a "third scheme" and that Murdaugh additionally "conspired with a personal injury attorney in Beaufort to defraud the estate of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper and Murdaugh’s homeowner’s insurance carriers."
Murdaugh is now scheduled for a plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Charleston on Thursday. At this time, federal court Judge Richard Gergel is expected to make a decision on whether he will grant or deny the plea agreement.
The plea deal states that if Murdaugh cooperates with the conditions of the deal, "Attorneys for the Government agree to recommend to the Court that the sentence imposed on these charges be served concurrent to any state sentence imposed for the same conduct."
According to CNN, a court motion alleging the jury was tampered with by a clerk of court and demanding a new trial, was filed by the convicted murderer's defense team this month. This prompted the South Carolina attorney general to ask South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate claims of jury tampering.
It was while Murdaugh was on trial for the murders of his wife and son that his alleged illegal business dealings were made public. During the trial, he confessed to stealing money from his client, per USA Today.
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On March 2, 2023, he was found guilty of murdering Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, in June 2021 at the family’s 1,770-acre Islandton, S.C. home.
“You know, you have to see Paul and Maggie during the night time when you’re attempting to go to sleep,” Newman said to the lawyer during sentencing in March, per CNN. “Sure. They come and visit you.”
The same month, the disbarred lawyer was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in prison for their deaths. At the time, it was reported that he faced federal charges in other states involving more than 100 cases related to fraud, as stated by multiple outlets.
In addition to the murders of his wife and his son Paul, and allegations around his business dealings, the convicted killer allegedly tried to arrange a suicide-for-hire to gain a $10 million life insurance payout for his surviving son, Buster.
In August, Buster spoke to FOX Nation, saying he believed his father was innocent and that the person actually responsible for the murder of his family members was still free.
“I do not think that he could be affiliated with endangering my mother and brother,” Buster said. “We have been here for a while now and that’s been my stance.”
Murdaugh's next state trial is scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 27 in Beaufort County, S.C.
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