A grand jury voted to indict Murdaugh on the financial charges, alleging he took part in three different schemes to get money and property from his clients. At the time the alleged fraud took place, Murdaugh was serving as a personal injury attorney in Hampton, South Carolina.
Prosecutors held off on prosecuting Murdaugh for his financial crimes until the murder trial was completed. The case captured national attention for its dramatic twists and turns, including allegations that Murdaugh paid a hitman to murder him after the deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul.
The indictment lays out three distinct financial schemes, which prosecutors say were intended to funnel money meant for Murdaugh’s personal injury clients into his own bank accounts.
The first scheme took place from September 2005 through at least September 2021, and according to the indictment, included Murdaugh claiming funds in his law firm’s trust as attorney fees, claiming and collecting fees on non-existent annuities, creating false expenses and re-routing insurance money intended for beneficiaries into his own accounts.
The second scheme laid out in the indictment claims Murdaugh worked with his banker Russell Laffitte to commit wire and bank fraud. Laffitte would serve as personal representative or conservator for personal injury clients, accepting checks which were then used for Murdaugh’s benefit. According to the indictment, those funds were used to pay off Murdaugh’s personal loans and for personal expenses. That scheme took place from July 2011 to at least October 2021.
Laffitte was convicted on six charges related to the scheme in November 2022 and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Murdaugh is also charged with money laundering, in a third scheme that includes the creation of accounts in the name of a false corporation, Forge, in September 2015. Murdaugh was the sole signer and owner of the Forge account. Prosecutors say Murdaugh presented the nonexistent company as a legitimate entity for structuring settlement payments, and from May 2017 through at least July 2021, Murdaugh used it to funnel settlement money to himself.
Finally, Murdaugh is alleged to have defrauded the estate of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, and his homeowner’s insurance companies. After Satterfield died in a fall at the Murdaugh estate, he recommended her family file a claim and the insurance companies settled for $505,000 and $3,800,000. Prosecutors say the Satterfield family saw none of that money, which was funneled to Murdaugh and a personal injury attorney in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Murdaugh is currently serving a life sentence in a maximum security facility in South Carolina.