Advertisement

Alex Murdaugh, 2 others indicted on additional charges

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 5:08 PM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 5:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A South Carolina Grand Jury issued three indictments against suspended Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh and two others Wednesday.

The grand jury indicted Murdaugh on four new charges, suspended attorney Cory Fleming on five new charges and former banker Russell Lucius Laffitte on 21 charges, South Carolina Attorney General’s Office spokesman Robert Kittle said.

Murdaugh, 53, was suspended from the practice of law by Order of the Supreme Court of South Carolina on Sept. 8, 2021. Murdaugh was previously indicted by a Colleton County Grand Jury for offenses related to a scheme to commit suicide and defraud an insurance company. Murdaugh also was indicted by the South Carolina State Grand Jury in November 2021, December 2021, January 2022, and March 2022 for 75 counts including breach of trust with fraudulent intent, obtaining property by false pretenses, money laundering, computer crimes, forgery, and criminal conspiracy.

Fleming, 53, was suspended from the practice of law by Order of the Supreme Court of South Carolina on Oct. 8, 2021. Fleming was previously indicted in March 2022 by the South Carolina State Grand Jury for 18 counts including breach of trust with fraudulent intent, money laundering, computer crimes, and criminal conspiracy.

Laffitte, 51, the former chief executive officer of Palmetto State Bank until he was fired on Jan. 7, was not previously indicted in connection with the State Grand Jury’s investigation, Kittle said.

In the first superseding April indictment in Hampton County, the State Grand Jury charged Murdaugh and Laffitte together with one count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to surreptitiously misappropriate to Murdaugh $350,245.08 in funds Laffitte held in trust as conservator for Natarsha Thomas at Palmetto State Bank. The indictment further charges Laffitte individually for breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $10,000 (2 counts); and computer crime, value more than $10,000; in connection with the alleged scheme.

In the second superseding April indictment, venued in Hampton County, the State Grand Jury charged Murdaugh and Laffitte together with one count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to surreptitiously misappropriate to Murdaugh $309,581.46 in funds Laffitte held in trust as conservator for Hakeem L. Pinckney and his Estate at Palmetto State Bank, in order in part to allow Murdaugh to pay back loans Laffitte had issued to him from client funds in an unrelated case in which Laffitte also served as a fiduciary. The indictment further charges Laffitte individually for computer crime, value more than $10,000, and breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $10,000, in connection with the alleged scheme.

The second superseding April indictment additionally charges Murdaugh and Fleming together with one count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to surreptitiously misappropriate to Murdaugh $89,133.44 in funds Fleming held in trust as attorney for Pamela Pinckney. The indictment further charges Fleming individually for breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $10,000 in connection with the alleged scheme. Independent of the conspiracy, the indictment additionally charges Fleming individually for breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $2,000, but less than $10,000; and breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value less than $2,000; in connection with his alleged use of funds he held in trust as attorney for Pamela Pinckney totaling $8,078.46, for personal expenses to take himself, Murdaugh, and another attorney on a private plane to the 2012 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Finally, the indictment also charges Fleming individually for breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $2,000, but less than $10,000, for allegedly misappropriating to Murdaugh $4,560 in funds Fleming held in trust as attorney for Pamela Pinckney, under the false and fictitious guise of unspecific case expenses.

In the third superseding April indictment, venued in Allendale County, the State Grand Jury charges Murdaugh and Laffitte together with one count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to surreptitiously misappropriate to Murdaugh $1,172,945.76 in funds Laffitte controlled at Palmetto State Bank, in order in part to allow Murdaugh to pay back loans Laffitte had issued to him from client funds in an unrelated case in which Laffitte served as a fiduciary. The indictment further charges Laffitte as an aider and abettor to Murdaugh in 12 counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $10,000, in connection with the alleged scheme.

The crimes charged in the indictments carry the following classifications and penalties:

  • Computer crime, value $10,000 or more, is a felony punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or More, is a felony punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for up to 10 years, or a fine in the discretion of the court.
  • Breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value more than $2,000 but less than $10,000, is a felony punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for up to five years, or a fine in the discretion of the court.
  • Breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value less than $2,000, is a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for up to 30 days, or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Criminal conspiracy is a felony punishable upon conviction by imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to $5,000.

Altogether, through 15 indictments containing 79 charges against Murdaugh, the State Grand Jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud victims of $8,492,888.31.

Although some of the amounts as to Fleming and Laffitte overlap as to the alleged amounts for Murdaugh, as to Fleming, through two indictments containing 23 charges against him, the State Grand Jury has indicted Fleming for schemes to defraud victims of $3,725,203.85.

As to Laffitte, through three indictments containing 21 charges against him, the State Grand Jury has indicted Laffitte for schemes to defraud victims of $1,832,772.30.

Murdaugh is currently in custody at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, Kittle said. Fleming is currently out on bond for the previously unsealed State Grand Jury charges.

In addition to previous charges, Laffittee now faces 21 new charges, Fleming faces five new charges and Murdaugh faces four.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.