Alex Murdaugh pleads the fifth, refuses to incriminate himself in law firm embezzlement case

Alex Murdaugh pleads the fifth, refuses to incriminate himself in law firm embezzlement case

Alex Murdaugh’s attorney admits disgraced lawyer knows he’s going to jail

Criminal defense attorney Brian Claypool reacts to the latest development in the Murdaugh family murder mystery saga

Alex Murdaugh, a disgraced attorney and former volunteer prosecutor from a powerful Democratic South Carolina legal family, pleaded the fifth last week, refusing to incriminate himself in a lawsuit alleging he embezzled millions from a prominent law firm founded by his great-grandfather. 

The motion filed Friday in Colleton County says Murdaugh admits to the allegations contained in the first three paragraphs of the complaint, which essentially just establish Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, P.A., or PMPED, as a law firm with offices in Hampton, Colleton, and Jasper counties. Murdaugh is a citizen and resident of Colleton County, and Murdaugh was an employee and shareholder of PMPED prior to Sept. 3. 

But as for paragraphs 4 through 36, Murdaugh “asserts his privilege against self-incrimination guaranteed by the United States and South Carolina constitutions and respectfully refuses not to answer,” his lawyers, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, wrote. The decision to plead the fifth means Murdaugh will not immediately have to answer to the details surrounding his disgraced departure from the law firm – as well as its timing, as Murdaugh resigned a day before allegedly orchestrating his own botched suicide over Labor Day weekend so his son could collection $10 million in life insurance. 

The complaint filed on behalf of PMPED alleges Murdaugh was converting client and law firm money to his own personal use via a fraudulent Bank of America account without authorization. The name of the account was “Alexander Murdaugh d/b/a Forge,” which is a fictitious entity that provides no services and makes no products for sale, according to the filing. 

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    Alex Murdaugh awaits the beginning of his bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, South Carolina, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool)

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    Alex Murdaugh appeared in a new mugshot following his arrest in Orlando, Florida on charges in connection to housekeeper Gloria Satterfield insurance settlements (Orange County Corrections)

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    Alex Murdaugh weeps during his bond hearing, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) ( )

Murdaugh named the account to resemble Forge Consulting, LLC in Columbia, a respected company that had provided services to PMPED in the past, including brokering structured settlements and annuities, creating specialized trusts to protect client assets and giving attorneys financial advice. 

Murdaugh was arrested again in October and denied bond on new charges alleging he pocketed $3.4 million in settlement money following the 2018 death of his longtime nanny and housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. Last week, a judge upheld his decision to deny bond for Murdaugh after receiving the results of his psychiatric evaluation, ruling the disgraced lawyer is a danger to himself and the community.

A different judge, siding with the family of 19-year-old boat crash victim Mallory Beach, also recently moved to freeze assets belonging to Alex and Buster Murdaugh to protect future potential settlements in their wrongful death lawsuit. Prosecutors had said the now deceased Paul Murdaugh was underage and intoxicated when he crashed his father’s boat, killing Beach and injuring other passengers.

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