Murdaugh ‘abused and stole’ from clients, gets nearly double feds’ recommended sentence


Alex Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh appears in state court for financial crimes sentencing on Nov. 28, 2023. (Law&Crime Network)

A judge has added another decadeslong prison sentence for disgraced attorney and twice-convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ordered Murdaugh to serve 40 years in prison for stealing nearly $11 million from clients and his law firm. This is on top of the two life sentences he received for murdering his wife and son and the 27 years he got for similar financial crimes in state court.

Federal prosecutors had asked for between 17.5 years and nearly 22 years. But Gergel, a Barack Obama appointee, nearly doubled the sentence because Murdaugh stole from “the most needy, vulnerable people” including a quadriplegic, state trooper and a trust fund meant for children. the judge said.

“They placed all their problems and all their hopes on Mr. Murdaugh and it is from those people he abused and stole. It is a difficult set of actions to understand,” Gergel said, according to The Associated Press.

Murdaugh will also have to pay $9 million in restitution. He apologized to the court and said he felt “guilt, sorrow, shame, embarrassment, humiliation,” the AP reported.

“There’s not enough time and I don’t possess a sufficient vocabulary to adequately portray to you in words the magnitude of how I feel about the things I did,” Murdaugh reportedly said.

He had previously pleaded guilty to 22 financial crimes, including bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in the federal case.

His fall from grace has been well-documented but nonetheless shocking. He was once a respected attorney from a family full of lawmen, but that all came crashing down nearly three years ago. On June 7, 2021, the defendant brutally killed his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, with an AR-style rifle, and their youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, with a shotgun in the dog kennels at the family’s expansive hunting lodge known as Moselle.

On March 2, 2023, after a trial taking up the better part of six weeks, 12 of Murdaugh’s peers found him guilty after around three hours of deliberation. A judge then sentenced Murdaugh to two life prison sentences, though the ex-attorney is appealing the verdict following jury tampering allegations by the then-county clerk.

Though he was set to spend the rest of his natural life in prison, his legal problems didn’t end. In April 2023, a South Carolina grand jury indicted Murdaugh of willful attempt to evade or defeat a tax over tax years 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, the indictment alleges Murdaugh also received an additional $1.12 million through efforts to defraud his former namesake, law firm and the firm’s clients of proceeds from the settling of lawsuits.

“The funds derived from both Murdaugh’s regular employment and his ongoing illegal activity were converted to personal use,” the first count of the indictment alleges. “Despite filing individual income tax returns in the past, and despite earning sufficient income such that he was required to file an individual income tax return, Murdaugh willfully did not file a tax return in order to evade the assessment of $67,624 of income tax due to the State of South Carolina.”

In 2021, the indictment alleges, a similar story played out. That year, Murdaugh allegedly defrauded his firm and clients of just over $1 million. And according to the indictment, he failed to file a tax return to avoid paying $64,948 in state income tax.

Murdaugh has been indicted for tax evasion before.

In December 2020, the fallen-from-grace legal scion was indicted for tax evasion spanning 2011 through 2019. Those charges came from an indictment issued by a grand jury in Hampton County. They allege that Murdaugh failed to report over $6.95 million worth of income to skip out on $486,819 worth of taxes owed to Palmetto State tax authorities.

A judge sentenced Murdaugh to 27 years in prison for the state crimes.

Then the prosecutors in May 2023 indicted him on 22 financial crimes after the feds found additional victims. This is the final criminal case outstanding for Murdaugh.

Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report

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