April 12, 2024

Alex Murdaugh has been sentenced to an additional 40 years in prison for federal financial crimes

Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh has received an additional 40 years in prison after being convicted of a slew of federal financial fraud crimes.

The 55-year-old convicted murderer and fraudster appeared in federal court in Charleston on Monday morning, where U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel determined what punishment he should face for an elaborate, decade-long scheme in which he stole millions of dollars from vulnerable legal clients. The new sentence, which exceeds the 30 years prosecutors requested, will run concurrently with the state sentences Murdaugh is already serving.

Judge Gergel said he gave Murdaugh a harsher sentence because his crimes affected “the neediest, most vulnerable people.” Associated press reports.

“They pinned all their problems and all their hopes on Mr. Murdaugh, and that comes from the people he abused and stole from,” Judge Gergel said. “It’s a difficult series of actions to understand.”

From at least 2008 through 2021, Murdaugh defrauded several clients at his law firm PMPED of more than $10 million in funds. In addition to his additional 40 years, Murdaugh must also pay an additional $8.7 million. The money will be distributed among different victims, The post and courier reports, as well as his former law firm and the bank Murdaugh used to funnel stolen money.

Among the victims was the family of Gloria Satterfield – the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who helped raise his two sons, Paul and Buster.

Satterfield died in February 2018 after a mysterious travel and fall accident on the steps of the wealthy family’s Moselle home — the same estate where Murdaugh murdered his wife Maggie and son Paul just three years later.

Murdaugh urged Satterfield’s two sons to file a wrongful death lawsuit and then stole the $4 million in settlement money from them. The insurer that paid Ms. Satterfield’s family will receive $3.8 million from Murdaugh, the court also ruled Monday.

Just minutes before Judge Gergel handed down his sentence, Murdaugh addressed the court and apologized to his victims.

“I want you to know and I want the victims to know: I am filled with grief, I am filled with remorse, I am filled with guilt,” Murdaugh said. The Herald. “I do everything I can to become a better person.”

“Judge, I know that there is not enough time and that I do not have enough vocabulary to express to you in words the extent of what I feel about what I have done – as you have indicated for a long time… I am literally filled with sadness and I am filled with guilt,” he continued.

In September, Murdaugh ultimately pleaded guilty to 22 federal charges in the multimillion-dollar scheme, including bank fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, after reaching a plea deal with Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors .

Under the terms of the deal, he faced a prison sentence of up to 30 years, to be served concurrently with his state conviction on the same charges. In November, he was handed a 27-year prison sentence in state court during a highly emotional sentencing hearing where he was confronted by several of his victims.

Alex Murdaugh appears at a hearing where he – unsuccessfully – requested a new murder trial

(AP)

The federal plea deal required Murdaugh to cooperate with prosecutors and be honest about the details of his elaborate fraud.

But just days before his sentencing, DOJ prosecutors posted a new court filing saying the double murderer was not living up to his end of the bargain and asking the judge to break the plea deal.

In the filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse argued that Murdaugh lied during a polygraph test. The filing also noted that an additional $1.3 million in stolen money and an additional 11 victims of Murdaugh’s financial crimes had been discovered since the deal was reached.

However, at sentencing, both parties reached an agreement to keep the plea deal.

In total, this brought the size of Murdaugh’s financial fraud scheme to a staggering 25 known victims and more than $10.5 million in stolen money. Ms Limehouse argued that these newly discovered crimes would add a prison sentence of nine to 11 years.

As a result, the DOJ asked Judge Gergel to vacate the plea deal and insisted that Murdaugh receive a longer sentence, which would then increase to his state sentence.

Instead of imposing a 21-year sentencing guideline to run concurrently with his state sentence, Murdaugh was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison on each of the 22 charges.

Despite his convictions, many questions remain about the extent of Murdaugh’s crimes.

While he continues to maintain that he stole the money to feed his own decades-long opioid addiction, prosecutors have long cast doubt on that claim — in part pointing to the sheer size of the missing money, which appears to be unexplained.

Two of his accomplices – both also powerful figures in the Low Country – have also been convicted of white-collar fraud. Fellow attorney Cory Fleming was sentenced to nearly four years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges and admitting he defrauded Satterfield’s family of millions. Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte, who like Murdaugh came from a prominent, wealthy family, was sentenced to seven years.

The trio of conspirators would represent clients in wrongful death lawsuits and then steal the money for themselves. Laffitte and Fleming often acted as conservators for Murdaugh’s victims.

Much of the stolen money was funneled through a fake ‘Forge’ bank account, which the legitimate and completely unrelated company Forge Consulting tried to impersonate.

Alex Murdaugh cries as he addresses the court during his sentencing on state financial fraud charges in November

(AP)

Some of the money was also funneled through checks to Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Smith – Murdaugh’s distant cousin and alleged drug dealer who also happens to be the alleged accomplice in the killer’s bizarre failed hit-man plot.

Murdaugh’s financial crimes came crashing down around him in the lead-up to the brutal murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul on June 7, 2021.

During his murder trial, jurors heard how Murdaugh’s colleagues at PMPED approached his thefts, with a colleague confronting him about about $792,000 in stolen money the morning of the murders.

His finances also came under scrutiny in a lawsuit filed by the family of Mallory Beach — a 19-year-old woman who died in a 2019 accident on the Murdaugh family’s boat. A hearing on the boating accident lawsuit was scheduled for June 10 – three days after the murders.

Jurors at the trial heard how Murdaugh shot and killed his wife and son to distract from his crumbling empire.

Two months after the deadly shootings – in September 2021 – Murdaugh was kicked out of his law firm after they exposed his years of theft.

Just a few hours later, Murdaugh was shot in the head on the side of a road in Hampton County in a bizarre incident now known as the “roadside shooting.”

Days later — after checking into rehab for what he claims was a two-decade opioid addiction — he confessed to paying his distant cousin, Mr. Smith, to shoot and kill him in a plot to supervised suicide so that his surviving son Buster could be fined. $10 million life insurance windfall.

Both men were arrested and charged over the incident. However, Mr. Smith denies Murdaugh’s version of events and charges against him are still moving through the courts.

Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh prior to the murders

(Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook)

At a dramatic moment during his murder trial, Murdaugh took the stand and admitted to carrying out a major financial fraud scheme.

But while he may have confessed – at least in part – to stealing millions from vulnerable clients, close friends and even his own family members, Murdaugh continues to deny that he killed Maggie and Paul.

He was convicted of the murders in May 2023 after a dramatic six-week ‘trial of the century’, during which his web of lies fell apart when jurors heard damning cellphone footage that placed him at the scene moments before the murders . He was sentenced to life in prison.

He has been fighting his conviction ever since — sensationally seeking a new trial in September based on allegations that Colleton County Court Clerk Becky Hill tampered with the jury and pressured them into a verdict. guilty verdict against him.

His bid for a new trial has since been rejected and Ms Hill has denied the allegations. However, she still remains the focus of two investigations by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

And last week, she resigned from her role with immediate effect — a move she insisted was not related to the jury tampering charges.

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