SC grand jury issues indictments totaling 27 counts against Alex Murdaugh
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The state attorney general’s office announced new indictments against suspended Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh Friday.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says the South Carolina State Grand Jury issued five indictments totaling 27 counts.
The indictments charge Murdaugh with four counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, seven counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, seven counts of money laundering, eight counts of computer crimes, and one count of forgery.
The charges come from five different counties in South Carolina. Murdaugh allegedly tried to “defraud victims of and therefore launder” more than $4 million.
Several of the accusations against Murdaugh relate to a bank account that he allegedly created “for the purpose of misappropriating funds belonging to others with the illusion that the money was being paid” to a “legitimate company.”
The first indictment comes from Bamberg County where Murdaugh is charged with four counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, three counts of money laundering, and one count of computer crime.
The attorney general’s office alleges that Murdaugh had a scheme to defraud his law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, P.A., and launder $792,000.
This indictment says that Murdaugh “convinced an attorney from another firm with which he was associated on a case” to write checks to him personally instead of to his law firm’s account, allegedly explaining that “he was going to structure his fees in part because of possible civil liability in a case involving a boat crash in which a young woman died.”
The boat crash in question appears to be the one in Feb. 2019 in which 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed, but Beach’s name is not mentioned in the document. The 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office was previously pursuing charges against Murdaugh’s son in connection with Beach’s death.
Murdaugh served the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office “in a volunteer capacity” as recently as Oct. 2019, according to office spokesperson Erinn McGuire.
The second indictment is out of Orangeburg County where Murdaugh is charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent, money laundering, computer crime and forgery. Wilson said the indictments arise out of an alleged scheme to defraud Thomas Moore of and thereafter launder $125,000.
Moore, who could not be reached for comment, is described in the indictment as “a highway patrolman who had been injured in the line of duty and had come to Murdaugh for help.”
Murdaugh filed a lawsuit on behalf of Moore in 2018, according to Orangeburg County court filings. The lawsuit alleged that Moore was sitting in his South Carolina Highway Patrol vehicle at a collision scene on Highway 70 when the car was rear-ended.
A third indictment charges Murdaugh in Colleton County with breach of trust with fraudulent intent and computer crime. These accusations arise out of an alleged scheme to defraud victims of and thereafter launder $70,000, according to the attorney general’s attorney.
The alleged victim in the Colleton County case is identified in the indictment as Manuel Santis-Cristiani, but court records do not list any information for anyone with that name.
In the fourth indictment, Murdaugh is charged in Beaufort County with three counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretense, three counts of money laundering and three counts of computer crime. Wilson said the indictments come from an alleged scheme to defraud victims of and thereafter launder $3,483,431.95.
The Beaufort County case relates to Gloria Satterfield, a housekeeper for the Murdaugh family who died in 2018. Insurance settlements at the time described her death as a “trip and fall” incident.
“Instead of compensating Gloria’s sons for her death, Murdaugh instead converted the money to his own personal use, for expenses including but not limited to car payments, loan payments, cash, and checks written to associates,” the indictment says.
In a fifth indictment from Allendale County, Murdaugh is charged with two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and two counts of computer crime. The indictments arise out of an alleged scheme to defraud Deon Martin of and thereafter launder $383,056.14, Wilson said.
A lawsuit shows that Martin hired Murdaugh after being “seriously and severely injured” in a collision on Highway 321 in Allendale County in 2012.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
Murdaugh is currently being held in a Columbia detention center without bond. His attorney was attending a funeral on Friday and was not immediately available for comment.
These five indictments come two months after Murdaugh was accused of hiring a hitman to try to kill him along the side of a road in Hampton County.
In June, Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret, and son, Paul, were killed inside their rural Colleton County house. No one has been charged in connection with their deaths.
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