Federal government will not seize Murdaugh’s assets, leaving state in control

Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 9:54 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2023 at 12:10 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Federal prosecutors responded to a request by convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys asking the government to take control of his assets from co-receivers appointed by a state judge.

In the response filed Wednesday in district court, prosecutors said that while a preliminary order of forfeiture would give the government the authority to seize property, “the United States does not intend to seize the assets in the state court Receivership at this time.”

Prosecutors said that even if the federal government wanted to seize the assets they would not be able to because the state of South Carolina claimed jurisdiction over the assets first.

Murdaugh’s assets were placed in receivership on Nov. 4, 2021, to prevent “hiding, concealing, misappropriating, selling, encumbering, transferring, impairing the value of and otherwise disposing of any” assets.

The order assigned John T. Lay and Peter M. McCoy as co-receivers of Murdaugh’s assets.

Murdaugh’s attorneys have argued that the receivers took control of $2.1 million of his assets and have paid out $400,000 to Lay and McCoy with another $253,294 requested.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Court documents state the defense believes “the Murdaugh Funds are at risk of substantial dissipation and waste.”

Prosecutors said the fees collected by the co-receivers represent a “significant discount” compared to standard fees.

“These fees were approved by the state court circuit judge, absent objection from Murdaugh or any potential claimants or creditors,” documents state.

Prosecutors said that while the government was authorized to seize $9 million to satisfy its forfeiture judgment, it is not required.

“Murdaugh cannot force the Government to seize any assets, particularly assets over which he has either relinquished or been divested of control,” court documents state.

Prosecutors said the claim from the defense that the government would perform the same function as the receivers was not true in part because the government considers some of the federal victims as made “whole” and by taking control of the assets from the state, some of the state victims that were not included in the federal crimes would not be able to recover funds.