April 16, 2024

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Alex Murdaugh sentenced for financial crimes after polygraph controversy

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A federal South Carolina judge sentenced Alex Murdaugh to another 480 months, or 40 years, in prison on Monday after the former personal injury lawyer pleaded guilty to 22 federal financial crimes charges in September of last year.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel said he was committed to impose 480 months and mandatory restitution totaling more than $9 million. Because the defendant does not have the ability to pay restitution, however, Gergel waived the fee and required Murdaugh to pay $2,000 in special assessment immediately.

“I do want you to know and all of the victims to know I am filled with sorrow. I am filled with remorse. I am filled with guilt,” Murdaugh said Monday.

Muraugh’s attorney, Jim Griffin, told reporters outside the Charleston courthouse on Monday that he’s not sure how much of the 40-year sentence his client will end up serving. 

ALEX MURDAUGH’S LAWYERS WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC STATEMENTS ABOUT STOLEN MONEY. FBI SAYS MURDAUGH LIED

Alex-Murdaugh-Financial-Crimes

Federal prosecutors said Murdaugh didn’t tell the truth about where $6 million he stole went and whether a so far unnamed attorney helped him, and wanted to revoke a plea deal on federal financial crime charges, according to court documents. (Tracy Glantz/The State via AP)

“Federal inmates are doing approximately 60% of their sentence. So at 40 years, that would equate to 24 years,” Griffin said, adding that “things can change over time.”

Eric Bland, an attorney representing victims of Murdaugh’s financial crimes, including Gloria Satterfield’s family, said it was “offensive” to equate Murdaugh’s victims with the victims of Bernie Madoff, Samuel Bankman-Fried, or Enron victims.

ALEX MURDAUGH COURT CLERK BECKY HILL RESIGNS AFTER ALLEGATIONS OF JURY TAMPERING

“These victims were not investing money. They lost their loved ones. … And Alex Murdaugh took advantage of that,” Bland said.

Alex Murdaugh enters the courtroom for his sentencing

Alex Murdaugh talks with his attorneys Dick Harpootlian, left, and Jim Griffin during his sentencing, Nov. 28, 2023, at the Beaufort County Courthouse in Beaufort, South Carolina. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)

Murdaugh, 55, is already serving a life sentence for fatally shooting his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, in June 2021 on their family’s hunting estate in Colleton County. Prosecutors argued that their murders were an attempt to distract from Murdaugh’s mounting financial crimes, which were beginning to come to light around that time.

The disgraced South Carolina lawyer was also sentenced to 27 years for his financial crimes in a state case in November of last year.

Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 17 to 22 years in prison for the nearly two-dozen crimes, including bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, stemming from Murdaugh’s schemes to steal millions from his clients and the firm where he served as partner.

SOUTH CAROLINA JUDGE DENIES ALEX MURDAUGH’S REQUEST FOR A NEW MURDER TRIAL

Alex Murdaugh attends his sentencing wearing a tan jumpsuit and handcuffs.

Alex Murdaugh sentenced to life in prison after conviction in double murder trial on March 3, 2023. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool)

In court documents filed last week, however, federal prosecutors alleged that Murdaugh failed part of a polygraph test regarding $6 million in stolen funds, violating his plea agreement. His defense attorneys, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, are asking a judge to dismiss the allegations and said they want to publicize Murdaugh’s statements from the test.

During Monday’s hearing, the defense asked for a motion to review the polygraph test. Judge Gergel said the motion was withdrawn.

“[T]he polygraph examination that forms the basis of the Government’s motion was plagued by many irregularities and violated in material respects the standards for designing appropriate polygraph questions,” Murdaugh’s attorneys wrote. “For these reasons, the Government should not be permitted to rely on the results of that polygraph examination in the first instance.”

Alex Murdaugh cries while in court.

Alex Murdaugh listens to testimony during his double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Feb. 27, 2023. (Jeff Blake/The State/Pool)

In the state case, prosecutors said Murdaugh used his power and family influence in the Lowcountry to take on clients’ cases, win them “significant funds” and then keep a decent portion of the earnings for himself.

ALEX MURDAUGH’S PUSH FOR NEW TRIAL COULD DEPEND ON ONE JUROR, ATTORNEY SAYS

At the conclusion of the state financial crimes case last year, South Carolina prosecutor Creighton Waters said that in the “many instances” of people who trusted Murdaugh and sought his legal help, there were “significant funds that Mr. Murdaugh paid to those individuals, but that was how the scheme usually worked. It was a sleight of hand.”

Murdaugh was initially charged with about 100 financial crimes totaling about $10 million in both the state and federal cases, but that number was lessened to 22 counts as part of his respective plea deals.

The Murdaugh family smiling in a portrait.

A photo of the Murdaugh family, from left, Buster, Paul, Maggie and Alex, taken days before Paul and Maggie were shot to death. (Defense exhibit)

ALEX MURDAUGH ‘A SHELL OF A MAN’ FOR FINANCIAL BETRAYAL, GLORIA SATTERFIELD SISTER TELLS INTERVIEWER

After being convicted in 2022 for killing his wife and son, Murdaugh appeared back in court in January for a hearing focused on allegations of jury tampering against Colleton County Court Clerk Becky Hill, who announced in March she will not be seeking re-election for the position.

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Murdaugh’s attorneys argued that the allegations warranted a new murder trial for the former South Carolina legal scion. Justice Jean Toal ultimately decided after hearing from jurors who presided over Murdaugh’s trial that the allegations against Hill were not enough to grant the defendant a new trial in the murder case.

Fox News’ Kennedy Hayes contributed to this report.

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