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Lawyer Accused of Murdering Wife and Son Now Faces Fraud and Money Laundering Indictments for Allegedly Ripping Off His Old Law Firm

 
Alex Murdaugh appears in an Oct. 14, 2021 mugshot obtained from the Orange County, Fla. Department of Corrections.

Alex Murdaugh appears in an Oct. 14, 2021 mugshot obtained from the Orange County, Fla. Department of Corrections.

Disgraced South Carolina lawyer and accused murderer Richard “Alex” Murdaugh now faces an indictment for alleged fraud and money laundering crimes going back to when he was a partner at the law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, P.A. (PMPED).

A Friday press release from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) announced indictments against Murdaugh on “four counts of Obtaining Signature or Property by False Pretenses Value $10,000 or More, two counts of Money Laundering Value $20,000 – $100,000, one count of Money Laundering Value $100,000 or More,” and “two counts of Computer Crime Value More Than $10,000.”

The offenses allegedly occurred while Murdaugh was still working at the law firm that bore the legal scion’s family’s name. According to the indictment, Murdaugh stole more than $120,000 in funds that were meant to be a repayment to his brother for loaning money to the firm earlier in the year.

“It was common for certain partners of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, P.A. (PMPED) to loan money to the firm at the beginning of the year to cover operating expenses until sufficient fee revenue was generated. Typically, partners who elected to loan money for this purpose were paid back with interest in April or May,” the indictment said. “MURDAUGH was not a partner known to make such loans, but the PMPED accounting office erroneously wrote out a repayment loan check to MURDAUGH for $121,358.63 that should have gone to MURDAUGH’s brother who did make a loan.”

“Instead of calling attention to the mistake, MURDAUGH instead went to the accounting office and through false representations had the office cut another check for the same amount and void the original one within the internal accounting system,” documents added. “MURDAUGH then deposited that replacement loan repayment check into his account and converted the funds to his personal use.”

From there, Murdaugh allegedly laundered the money through online transactions.

MURDAUGH then deposited that loan repayment second check into his account and converted the funds to his personal use. On or about October 12, 2018, MURDAUGH deposited the original loan repayment check intended for his brother. MURDAUGH then engaged in financial transactions to convert the money to personal use, including making online transfers, and writing checks to associates. These transactions exceeded $100,000 in a twelve month period.

Additional charges relate to Murdaugh’s alleged creation of a bank account “under the name ‘Richard A Murdaugh Sole Prop DBA Forge.'” This account was allegedly used to misappropriate funds under the “illusion that the money was being paid to the legitimate settlement planning company Forge Consulting, LLC”:

MURDAUGH then caused a check for $91,867.50, which represented the legal fees due in a case to MURDAUGH’s law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, P.A. (PMPED), to be disbursed from the client trust account to ‘Forge’ as ‘Settlement Proceeds’ rather than following the normal practice of having a trust account check written for fees and deposited to the operating account of MURDAUGH’s law firm, PMPED. MURDAUGH had not informed PMPED he was bypassing paying the fees into the firm as he was required to do, and MURDAUGH did not structure the fees with the legitimate company Forge Consulting, LLC.

The AG’s office, noting that these felonies are punishable by years to a decade or more of prison time upon conviction, then provided perspective about the scope of Murdaugh’s alleged crimes: “Altogether, through 18 indictments containing 90 charges against Murdaugh, the State Grand Jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud victims of $8,789,447.77.”

In July, Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and son Paul Murdaugh, 22, in Colleton County on June 7, 2021.

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Matt Naham is the editor-in-chief of Law&Crime.