Criminal Justice

Prosecutors seek to revoke Alex Murdaugh's federal plea deal over $6M in missing money

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AP Alex Murdaugh March 2023

Disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced in early March 2023 to life in prison after a conviction in a double-murder trial during his sentencing at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. He was found guilty on all counts. (Photo by Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier via the Associated Press)

Federal prosecutors want to revoke their financial-crimes plea deal with disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh because they think that he has not been truthful about the location of more than $6 million in missing money and the possible involvement of another attorney in wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say Murdaugh was required to be “fully truthful” about criminal activity as part of the deal in which Murdaugh pleaded guilty to federal charges in September 2023 for stealing millions of dollars from clients, his law firm and the estate of his late housekeeper. He violated that promise, prosecutors say in a March 26 motion filed in South Carolina federal court.

The Associated Press and the Post and Courier have coverage of the prosecution request to hold Murdaugh in breach of the agreement.

Prosecutors had alleged that Murdaugh murdered his wife, Maggie, and son Paul in June 2021 to distract attention from his financial crimes. He was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison in March 2023. Two months after he pleaded guilty to federal charges of stealing from clients, he pleaded guilty to state charges of financial crimes.

As part of the federal plea deal, prosecutors said they would recommend that Murdaugh’s federal sentence for stealing from clients run concurrently with any state sentence for the same conduct. Now, prosecutors say the government should be relieved of its obligations under the plea deal, including the recommendation for a concurrent sentence. Prosecutors now plan to recommend the maximum sentence.

The government says Murdaugh failed polygraph tests in which he was asked about the missing money and possible involvement by the other attorney, who was not named in the motion. Murdaugh did, however, admit involvement of two others in his financial crimes—former banker Russell Laffitte and disbarred lawyer Cory Fleming, the government points out.

The motion says Murdaugh can’t withdraw his guilty plea because it would unjustly reward him for breaching the plea agreement.

Murdaugh has sought a new trial on the murder charges on the ground that the elected court clerk in Colleton County, South Carolina, tampered with the jury by warning jurors that they shouldn’t be fooled by defense testimony and by meeting privately with a jury foreperson. The new trial request was denied.

Rebecca Hill, the Colleton County, South Carolina, clerk, announced her resignation Monday, the Washington Post reports.

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