Alex Murdaugh pleads guilty to fraud amid alleged hitman’s damning claim – live

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Murdaugh Murders season 2 trailer

Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors on a string of financial fraud charges – admitting that he stole millions of dollars from law firm clients.

Following Monday’s agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to 22 federal charges including wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

His appearance in court on Thursday morning marked the first time he has ever admitted to a crime.

This comes as the new series of Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal was released on Wednesday, revealing Curtis Eddie Smith – Murdaugh’s alleged co-conspirator in the bizarre hitman plot – making a bombshell claim.

When he asked Murdaugh why he wanted him to fatally shoot him, Mr Smith claims he told him: “Because they’re going to be able to prove that I’m responsible for Maggie and Paul.”

The show also hears from Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill – who is now at the centre of jury tampering accusations brought by Murdaugh’s attorneys in their bid for a new murder trial. A random Georgia man’s now-deleted Facebook rant about his wife’s aunt is at the centre of the bid.


Earlier: Murdaugh’s longtime friend and alleged accomplice is sentenced for financial fraud crimes

Former attorney Cory Fleming was sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison on charges that he conspired with his longtime friend Alex Murdaugh to steal millions of dollars from trusting clients.

Fleming pleaded guilty last month to the financial fraud charges that stem from Murdaugh’s alleged scheme to steal money from the estate of his dead housekeeper Gloria Satterfield. Satterfield died in a fall on the Murdaugh property in 2018.

He was also involved in stealing money from the family of Hakeem Pinckney – a man whose family Murdaugh represented after he was killed in a car crash in 2009.

Andrea Cavallier reported on the sentencing for The Independent.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 17:10


Murdaugh’s bombshell confession before infamous botched hitman plot revealed

Mr Smith – a former law firm client, distant cousin and alleged drug dealer of Murdaugh – is facing a string of charges over the 4 September 2021 incident where he allegedly shot the double murderer in the head along the side of a road in Hampton County.

Now, in the new series of Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, released on Wednesday, the 62-year-old revealed never-before-heard details about the bizarre encounter.

Mr Smith claimed that Murdaugh begged him to shoot him in an assisted suicide scheme – a shocking request that he said he refused.

Rachel Sharp21 September 2023 16:46


Full story: Alex Murdaugh appears in court to plead guilty to financial crimes

Convicted killer and disgraced legal dynasty heir Alex Murdaugh appeared in federal court today to plead guilty to a string of financial fraud charges – admitting that he stole millions of dollars from law firm clients for his own personal benefit.

The double murderer stood before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel at the J. Waties Waring Judicial Center in Charleston where he waived his right to a jury trial and confirmed to the court his wish to change his plea to guilty.

Murdaugh had confirmed earlier this week that he’d plead guilty to 22 federal charges, which include wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

Andrea Cavallier has the story.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 16:21


Guilty plea signed

The guilty plea is signed, accepted and entered into the record.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:55


Murdaugh attorneys address issues with charges

After a review of the charges against him, Murdaugh says there are a few issues he disputes and defers to his attorney, Jim Griffin.

Mr Griffin says Murdaugh wants to make clear that he was not intending to steal from the estate account of Donna Badger, one of his victims, only her surviving husband Arthur Badger.

NBC News’s Drew Tripp reports that Judge Gergel responded with a mildly sarcastic tone clarifying that Murdaugh admits to stealing, but not meaning to steal from the dead wife’s estate account.

He then concedes he’s OK with that clarification.

Mr Griffin also reiterates an issue from the civil case in the Satterfield matter, establishing for the record that he invented the story given to insurance adjusters about how his housekeeper Gloria Satterfield fell and injured herself on his property.

A further issue is brought up by attorney Phil Barber regarding the forfeiture matter in the plea agreement. There is a discrepancy in the total loss amounts in the fraud proceeds attributable to Murdaugh.

Murdaugh has admitted to nearly $9m, but the government believes the amount is over $10.5m but is not ready to present that case today. It is agreed to initially base the order on the lower figure.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:55


Court hears terms of the plea deal

Judge Gergel says that the plea agreement is not a waiver of Murdaugh’s right to appeal.

Murdaugh says: “I’m pleading guilty of my own free will and because I am guilty, and for several other reasons.”

When asked to clarify what the other reasons are, he says so that his surviving son, Buster, can see him take responsibility and that he can try and make things right with his victims.

As part of the plea agreement, Murdaugh must be completely truthful and provide any relevant evidence or records. If he does not, the agreement can be rescinded and further charges can be brought.

Murdaugh must also submit to a polygraph test related to his frauds and assets at the government’s request as well as helping to trace and retrieve all assets, money, and accounts — there was much speculation at the close of the murder trial as to whether money had been hidden away.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:32


The charges to which Murdaugh is pleading guilty

Count 1 – Conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud (Up to 30 years in prison, $1m fine)

Count 2 – Bank fraud (Up to 30 years in prison, $1m fine)

Couns 3-4 – Wire fraud (Up to 30 years in prison, $1m fine)

Counts 5-7 – Wire fraud (Up to 20 years, $250,000 fine)

Count 8 – Conspiracy to commit wire fraud (Up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine)

Counts 9-22 – Money laundering (Up to 20 years, the greater of a $250,000 fine or twice the value of the property involved)

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:21


What was in the plea deal?

In the agreement, signed and filed in South Carolina US District Court on Monday, the double murderer confirmed he will plead guilty to 22 federal charges including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

While Murdaugh admitted to stealing millions from clients during bombshell courtroom testimony at his murder trial, this marks the first time that he has ever pleaded guilty to committing a crime.

Now, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison on some of the charges.

Under the agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed that the sentence would be served concurrently with any state conviction on the same charges.

The plea deal must be approved by a federal judge before it can go into effect.

If approved, it means that Murdaugh will likely remain behind bars for a long time – even if he wins his fight to be granted a new trial on murder charges.

In total, Murdaugh is facing more than 100 state and federal charges over his vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme which went on for more than a decade.

According to prosecutors, Murdaugh worked with co-conspirators and friends ex-attorney Cory Fleming and ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte to swindle clients out of millions of dollars.

Among the victims was the family of Murdaugh’s dead housekeeper Gloria Satterfield – who died in a mystery trip and fall at the family estate in 2018.

Murdaugh allegedly stole more than $4m in a wrongful death suit payout from the family.

Fleming and Laffitte have already been convicted in federal court for their roles in the convicted killer’s white-collar fraud scheme, with the former sentenced to four years and the latter to seven years.

While Murdaugh has reached a deal on the federal charges, he is heading to trial on the state charges in November.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:19


Court underway in Charleston

Court is in session in Charleston, South Carolina for Alex Murdaugh to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.

Judge Richard Gergel begins by asking procedural Murdaugh questions relating to consent and his competency.

Murdaugh says he has been sober for more than 700 days — he has been in prison for approximately two years.

He waives the right to a jury trial and confirms his wish to change his plea to guilty.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 15:10


Will Murdaugh be granted a new trial over murders of wife and son?

Speaking exclusively to The Independent’s Rachel Sharp, prominent defence attorney Duncan Levin says that the allegations against court clerk Rebecca Hill are ‘extremely serious’ and that – if true – Alex Murdaugh could and should be granted a new trial.

Oliver O’Connell21 September 2023 14:50