Convicted ex-banker linked to Alex Murdaugh through financial crime charges
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The names Laffitte and Murdaugh became connected in the court system in the spring of 2022. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson brought charges against Russell Laffitte and Alex Murdaugh in some of the same and similar financial crime cases.
Accusations included conspiracy to misappropriate money, breach of trust, computer crimes and the former banker was charged with aiding and abetting the former lawyer in the crimes.
Laffite and Murdaugh are also both named in a few civil suits by clients alleging the men stole client money.
The government first charged Laffite with federal crimes in July of 2022. He went to trial in November, pleading not guilty. The federal charges included conspiracy to commit fraud, aiding and abetting fraud and misapplication of funds in connection to Murdaugh’s clients’ money and Murdaugh’s money.
Over the course of the three-week trial, Laffitte’s lawyers worked to prove that Alex Murdaugh was the perpetrator and mastermind of the fraud while Laffitte was an unknowing participant. John Marvin Murdaugh, Alex’s brother testified as a character witness for Laffitte. Ultimately, the jury found Laffitte guilty on all six federal charges.
Prosecutor Emily Limehouse said after Laffitte’s conviction that his trial is the first of many in the financial sphere related to the crimes.
“These cases are complex, white-collar cases. They are hard. They are hard cases to try. They are hard cases to bring. They are important to the US attorney’s office. And these fraud cases are the types of cases that we will continue to investigate forward and to bring forward,” Limehouse said.
While Alex Murdaugh is accused of similar federal financial crimes, the former lawyer has not been tried or convicted on those charges. The murder trial of Murdaugh’s wife and son, where he is the defendant, takes precedent over financial crimes.
Since Laffitte’s November conviction, he has filed for a new trial. The documents cite various reasons including that two jurors were improperly dismissed leading to prejudice against Laffitte and the exclusion of some of Murdaugh’s other financial activity in Laffitte’s trial. The former banker has also hired new representation to take over his fight for a new trial.
Each of the six financial crimes Laffite is convicted of carries a potential sentence of 30 years in prison and a one million dollar fine. He has not been sentenced yet.
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