Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced former South Carolina lawyer who was convicted of murdering his wife and son to distract from massive fraud, has agreed to plead guilty to nearly two dozen federal charges in which he claims he defrauded his clients of millions.
In a plea agreement filed in federal court Monday evening, Murdaugh indicated he would plead guilty to crimes including money laundering, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. If a federal judge approves the deal at a hearing on Thursday in Charleston, the 54-year-old could face more than 30 years in prison.
Murdaugh agreed to tell investigators everything he knows about other criminal activity, submit to a lie detector exam and forfeit assets related to at least $9 million stolen from victims.
Murdaugh is serving two life sentences in state prison after being convicted in June 2021 of murdering his wife and son on the family’s hunting property. As part of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors can recommend that he serve any new prison sentence concurrently with his state sentence.
Murdaugh is also scheduled to stand trial in November on charges that he stole insurance money from the family of his late housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, and he still faces more than 100 state charges, ranging from drug trafficking to staging his own suicide enough for his eldest son to take out his $10 million life insurance policy.
The federal charges reflect financial crimes he already faces at the state level – some of which he admitted to during his murder trial. Murdaugh testified in his own defense that he had been stealing money from his family’s law firm and his clients for years.
“I misled them. I wronged them and stole their money,” he said.
Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh engaged in three schemes to steal from his clients: defrauding them by transferring damages payments to his personal accounts; conspiring with a former bank employee to divert funds; and setting up a bank account with a similar name to a legitimate insurance company to hide his fraud. The indictment says Murdaugh used the funds for his “personal benefit, including using the proceeds to pay off personal loans and for personal expenses and cash withdrawals.”
“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its attorneys,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said after the arraignment in May. “South Carolinians turn to lawyers when they are most vulnerable, and in our state those who abuse the public trust and enrich themselves through fraud, theft and self-dealing will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.