Cover by Alex Murdaugh
The Murdaugh family saga has dominated the news after another shootout, resignation and criminal charges – with Alex Murdaugh at the center of it all. Here are the latest updates on Alex Murdaugh.
South Carolina state grand jury indicted suspended Hampton lawyer Alex Murdaugh with 21 new financial crime counts, alleging he stole a total of $ 1.3 million from three counties , according to SC’s attorney general’s office.
The seven new indictments involve seven separate clients of Murdaugh who entrusted him with large sums of money that they had received as a result of the settlements they had received. The indictments indicated that the crimes were committed from 2016 to the end of 2020.
Murdaugh then used the stolen money for his own use, including spending $ 5,504 on a trip to New York in 2016, according to an indictment. Another indictment said he spent stolen money in late 2020 on “credit card payment, cash, family payments and checks issued to associates.”
The seven indictments indicate that Murdaugh had checks cut from his former company, PMPED of Hampton, and then deposited them into a personal bank account.
The checks were made payable to “Forge,” which is the name of a respected financial services company that South Carolina attorneys use to structure large settlements payable over a period of time. But Murdaugh’s “Forge” checking account was not associated in any way with the legitimate “Forge” company, according to the indictments.
“Murdaugh had created this bank account for the purpose of embezzling funds belonging to others with the illusion that the money was going to the legitimate company Forge Consulting,” said an indictment.
The indictments were announced Thursday night and charge Murdaugh with nine counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; seven counts of computer crimes; four counts of money laundering; and one count of counterfeiting.
The indictments, released in a press release from the state attorney general’s office, mean Murdaugh now faces 48 separate indictments in 12 indictments issued in November and December.
In total, Murdaugh is accused of stealing $ 6.2 million, according to the indictments.
Sources said the attorney general’s office plans to continue announcing new state grand jury indictments.
Murdaugh’s new indictments cover crimes allegedly committed in Beaufort, Colleton and Hampton counties, according to the attorney general.
“The point is, we just learned of the charges,” Murdaugh’s attorney Jim Griffin said by phone Thursday night.
A bail hearing for Murdaugh scheduled for Friday morning has been called off and postponed until next week to include the new indictments, Griffin said.
Murdaugh is now being held without bail at the Richland County Jail. His lawyers – Griffin and State Senator Dick Harpootlian – had hoped to get bail on Friday and ultimately secure Murdaugh’s release, albeit with various conditions such as wearing an ankle monitor.
SC’s law enforcement division, the attorney general’s office, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office have been investigating, according to the announcement.
The exact extent of any federal involvement is unknown. Each case will be prosecuted by the attorney general, the statement said.
In early October, PMPED sued Murdaugh, alleging he had “developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the company and customers to a fictitious entity” and funneled “stolen funds to fraudulent bank accounts” . The trial is pending.
The new charges indicate that law enforcement is moving quickly to uncover Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes.
However, no arrests were announced in the murders of Murdaugh’s wife and son in June. Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh were found shot dead on the grounds of the Murdaugh family estate in Colleton County.
What do the charges say?
The seven new indictments against Murdaugh include charges dating back to 2016 and cover three different counties. Each charge includes allegations that Murdaugh stole money intended for a client and transferred that money to a bank account called “Forge”.
The “Forge” account, named after a legitimate Atlanta-based company that handles settlement disbursements, was a bank account that Murdaugh created to deposit stolen money and convert it for his personal use, according to the deeds of ‘charge.
In Beaufort County, Jordan Jinks, described in the indictments as a longtime family friend, was supposed to receive $ 85,000 in settlement money on August 31, 2018.
Murdaugh, according to the indictment, told Jinks he had to keep this money to “satisfy a medical insurance lien.” Instead, Murdaugh sent a check to his personal bank account from the client’s trust account at his law firm.
He used the money to pay his credit card bill, withdraw money and write checks to associates, according to the indictment.
On November 30, 2020, Murdaugh convinced the personal representative of Sandra Taylor’s estate that a wrongful collection was only $ 30,000, according to the indictment. He said he would not charge a fee because the payback was so low.
In fact, the wrongful death settlement was $ 180,000, according to the indictment.
Murdaugh used this money to pay for legal fees and “some minor expenses.” He then wrote a check for $ 152,866 to his “Forge” account from the client’s trust account at his law firm, according to the indictment.
He used the money to pay a credit card bill, withdraw money, pay family members and write checks to associates, according to the indictment.
Murdaugh faces five separate indictments in Hampton County dating back to 2016.
On June 9, 2016, Murdaugh wrote a check for $ 95,000 on his Forge account using the client’s trust account at his law firm, according to an indictment. This money was intended for a man named Johnny Bush. Murdaugh reportedly told Bush that $ 100,000 of his settlement had been spent on rebuilding an accident.
On August 31, 2016, Murdaugh deposited $ 90,000 into his Forge account using the company’s client trust account. The money was to be paid to Jamian Risher as compensation for his injuries, according to the indictment.
On November 3, 2017, Murdaugh deposited a settlement of $ 9,569.30 into his Forge account using money intended for Randy Drawdy. The money came from the client’s trust account at his law firm, according to the indictment. Murdaugh allegedly used this money in cash and wrote checks to himself and an associate.
On April 11, 2019, Murdaugh deposited into his Forge account $ 112,500 that was intended for the estate of Blondell Gary as part of a wrongful death settlement, according to the indictment. He used this money to pay credit card bills, give money to family members, and write checks to associates.
On February 27, 2020, Murdaugh deposited into his personal account $ 750,000 which was supposed to be a settlement for Christopher Anderson. Murdaugh used the money to pay off loans, cash and wrote checks to associates, according to the indictment.
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This story was originally published 9 December 2021 19:09.