Murdaugh charges reappear on SC Courts web index after brief removal

Attorney Alex Murdaugh entered a Hampton County courtroom Thursday afternoon for his bond...
Attorney Alex Murdaugh entered a Hampton County courtroom Thursday afternoon for his bond hearing on three charges related to an alleged insurance scheme.(WTOC)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 1:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 2:43 PM EDT
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The three charges Alex Murdaugh faces in connection with an alleged $10 million insurance fraud scam went missing temporarily from the state’s online court records portal but reappeared Friday afternoon.

A State Judicial Branch Administration Office spokesperson explained the change as an administrative issue.

Judicial Branch Administration Office spokesperson Ginny Jones said the listings were pulled down while criminal charges were being transferred between magistrate court and circuit court after Murdaugh’s bond hearing. All of the charges that returned to the website show a filing date of Friday rather than the date they previously appeared.

Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report in a Sept. 4 incident.

The charges were listed on the Hampton County Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Public Index online as of Thursday afternoon, the day the prominent Lowcountry attorney faced a Hampton County magistrate judge. But by Friday morning, the charges had mysteriously disappeared from the website, which provides the public with information about active cases including dates for upcoming hearings and status changes to any pending charges.

It appears that all general sessions cases, those involving criminal charges, disappeared from the index. Charges against Curtis Smith, who is also facing charges in the same alleged fraud case, were not listed on the index as of Friday morning, either.

Smith’s charges had reappeared Friday afternoon as well.

The State Law Enforcement Division filed the charges against him after SLED agents said Murdaugh admitted to the plot. SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby confirmed earlier on Friday that those charges remain active.

Murdaugh attorney Dick Harpootlian, who stood by his client Thursday at the bond hearing, said he had “no idea” why they would be missing from the online index.

The Hampton County Clerk of Court referred questions to the Magistrate’s Office. The Magistrate’s Office referred questions to the state’s Judicial Branch Administration Office in Columbia.

SPECIAL SECTION: Murdaugh death investigation

Murdaugh surrendered to authorities at the Hampton County jail Thursday and faced a bond hearing on the charges Thursday afternoon.

A magistrate judge set a $20,000 personal recognizance bond for Murdaugh, which means he was able to be released from jail without paying any money. But as a condition of bond, he had to return to rehab where he is being treated for substance abuse.

Attorney Alex Murdaugh (left) was shot on Sept. 4. Curtis Smith (right) has been charged in...
Attorney Alex Murdaugh (left) was shot on Sept. 4. Curtis Smith (right) has been charged in connection with that shooting, the State Law Enforcement Division said.(Live/Colleton County Sheriff's Office)

State investigators allege Murdaugh and a second man, Curtis Smith, conspired together in the scheme. Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a firearm, instructed Smith to shoot him in the head, causing his death, so that his son could receive a life insurance payout of approximately $10 million.

Smith faced multiple charges as well and appeared before a bond judge on those charges on Thursday morning.

A judge set a bond of $55,000 on the charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

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