Alex Murdaugh Sentenced to 40 Years for Financial Crimes Amid Polygraph Scandal

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Alex Murdaugh, a former personal injury attorney, pleaded guilty in September last year to 22 federal charges of financial crimes. A federal South Carolina court sentenced him to another 480-months, or 40-years, in prison.

Richard M. Gergel, U.S. District judge, said that he would impose 480-months of mandatory restitution and a total of $9 million. Gergel waived this fee because the defendant did not have the financial ability to pay the restitution. He also ordered Murdaugh pay $2,000 as a special assessment.

“I want to let you know, and the other victims know that I am overwhelmed with sadness. I am filled with regret. Murdaugh told reporters on Monday that he was “filled with guilt”.

Jim Griffin, Muraugh’s lawyer, told reporters on Monday outside the Charleston courthouse that he is not certain how long his client’s 40-year prison sentence will be.

Federal inmates serve about 60% of their sentences. Griffin explained that at 40 years that would be 24 years. “Things can change with time,” he said.

Eric Bland is an attorney who represents victims of Murdaugh’s financial crimes. This includes Gloria Satterfield’s family. He said that it was “offensive to compare Murdaugh’s victims to those of Bernie Madoff or Samuel Bankman-Fried.

These victims did not invest money. They lost loved ones. Bland added, “Alex Murdaugh took full advantage of this.”

Murdaugh is already serving life in prison for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul in June 2021, on their hunting estate in Colleton County. The prosecution argued that the murders were done to distract attention from Murdaugh’s financial crimes that were becoming more apparent around that time.

In November last year, the disgraced South Carolina attorney was sentenced to 27-years for his financial crimes.

Federal prosecutors have recommended that Murdaugh be sentenced to 17-22 years in prison. This is for nearly two dozen crimes including bank fraud, money laundering and wire fraud. These crimes stemmed from Murdaugh’s schemes to steal millions of dollars from his clients and from the firm he worked at.

Federal prosecutors, in court documents filed this week, alleged, however, that Murdaugh had failed a part of a Polygraph test relating to $6 million in stolen money, thus violating his plea deal. Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian are his defense attorneys and they’re asking the judge to dismiss these allegations. They also want to make public Murdaugh’s statements.

The defense requested a review of the polygraph during the Monday hearing. The motion has been withdrawn by Judge Gergel.

Murdaugh’s lawyers wrote that “[t]he polygraph exam which forms the basis for the Government’s Motion was plagued with many irregularities and in some respects violated the standards of designing appropriate polygraph question,” For these reasons, it is not appropriate for the Government to rely upon the results of the polygraph examination.

In the state case prosecutors claimed Murdaugh took advantage of his family’s influence and power in the Lowcountry area to win clients’ cases and earn them “significant money” before keeping a portion of their earnings.

In the final report of the South Carolina state financial crimes case, Creighton Wassers stated that Murdaugh had paid “significant amounts of money” to the people who sought his help and trusted him. This was the usual way the scheme worked. It was a trick.

Murdaugh initially faced 100 counts of financial crimes, totaling $10 million, in both state and federal court cases. However, as part his respective plea deal this number was reduced to 22.

Murdaugh, who was convicted of killing his wife in 2022, appeared in court again in January to address allegations that Becky Hill, the Colleton County Court Clerk, had tampered with a jury. Hill announced in March that she would not seek reelection.

Attorneys for Murdaugh argued that these allegations justified a new trial in the murder case against the former South Carolina lawyer. Justice Jean Toal decided, after hearing the jurors that presided over Murdaugh’s trial, that the allegations made against Hill were insufficient to grant a new murder trial for the defendant.