Convicted double-murderer Alex Murdaugh cried as he pleaded guilty to nearly two dozen financial fraud-related charges, marking the first time he’s admitted to any wrongdoing since his legal troubles began years ago with the slayings of his wife and youngest son.
The former South Carolina attorney, whose family were both prosecutors and founders of an influential law firm in Hampton County, entered his official plea on Thursday in federal court in Charleston. He copped to a total of 22 counts, including 14 counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
The charges stem from an alleged scheme in which Murdaugh and a bank employee allegedly defrauded clients out of millions while he worked as a personal injury attorney at his Hampton law firm.
“I want to take responsibility,” Murdaugh told the judge, at times struggling to contain his emotions. “I want my son to see me take responsibility. It’s my hope that by taking responsibility that the people I’ve hurt can begin to heal.”
The disgraced legal scion is already serving two life sentences for the murders of son Paul, 22, and wife Maggie, 52. They were found fatally shot on June 7, 2021 near a kennel area on the family’s sweeping “Moselle” hunting estate. Prosecutors have argued he killed them because he knew his financial wrongdoings were about to be uncovered, and he was hoping their deaths would buy him sympathy and time to figure out a cover-up.
Murdaugh has meanwhile maintained his innocence in the double-killings, proclaiming from the witness stand during his weeks-long trial that he could never hurt his loved ones.
“There’s two things Alex will tell you,” defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said after the hearing on Thursday. “One, he stole the money. Two, he did not kill Maggie and Paul.”
Murdaugh is also facing about 100 different charges in state court. Authorities said he committed insurance fraud by trying to have someone kill him so his surviving son could get $10 million in life insurance. The shot only grazed Murdaugh, and he ultimately survived.
Investigators said he also failed to pay taxes on the money he stole, took settlement money from several clients and his family’s law firm, and ran a drug and money laundering ring.
He is scheduled to face trial on at least some of those charges at the end of November.
Murdaugh’s tearful court appearance on Thursday comes just days after he signed a plea agreement, which requires that he provide officials “full, complete and truthful information about all criminal activities about which he has knowledge,” according to the terms. That may also involve him undergoing a polygraph test, if requested by the government.
In exchange, prosecutors will recommend that the “sentence imposed on these [federal] charges be served concurrent to any state sentence imposed for the same conduct.”
With News Wire Services