Law Firms

Law firm staffers were first to suspect once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh was stealing client money, partner testifies

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Alex Murdaugh at his bond hearing

South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh (center) at his bond hearing in Columbia, South Carolina, in October 2021. Photo by Lewis M. Levine/The Associated Press.

A partner from the law firm of once-prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh—who is now charged with murder and financial crimes—testified Thursday about the first discovery of alleged client theft.

Ronnie Crosby, a partner with the firm now known as the Parker Law Group, testified that law firm staff members were the first to suspect Murdaugh, the State reports.

Crosby testified in the trial of former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte, who is accused of working with Murdaugh to steal millions of dollars from the lawyer’s clients.

Crosby said in spring 2021, staff members wanted to know what happened to a $792,000 fee earned by Murdaugh in February 2021 in an auto accident lawsuit that he tried with an outside lawyer, according to the State. After Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and his son Paul were murdered in June 2021, Murdaugh told staff members that the outside lawyer still had the fee, according to the testimony.

In September 2021, staff members found checks on Murdaugh’s desk from the auto accident case, Crosby said. Murdaugh was fired the next day. The firm launched an investigation.

Crosby testified that the firm discovered emails in which Murdaugh apparently gave Laffitte instructions on what to do with money that he won for clients. Some money in client conservatorships was used for money orders and cashier’s checks or to pay back loans that Laffitte and Murdaugh took from the conservatorships.

Crosby was the last prosecution witness to testify against Laffitte.

The former name of Crosby and Murdaugh’s firm was PMPED, a shortened version of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick. Murdaugh was disbarred in July.

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