Saturday 27 April 2024

Alex Murdaugh Appeals Sentence For Financial Crimes

 Convicted murderer and financial fraudster Alex Murdaugh has signaled he will appeal his 40-year federal prison sentence for financial crimes.

Murdaugh filed a notice of appeal on Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Walterboro Live reported. The sentence was handed down earlier this month after Murdaugh reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

At issue is that the defense and prosecution each asked U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel for a 30-year sentence, to run concurrently with Murdaugh’s 27-year sentence for state financial crime and consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife Maggie, and youngest son, Paul.

Instead, Gergel sentenced Murdaugh to a longer term, stating in his ruling that Murdaugh stole money from “the most needy, vulnerable people.” This included a client who was left without the use of his arms or legs after a crash and a trust fund for children whose parents had been killed in a car crash.

Murdaugh was accused of stealing millions of dollars from his previous law firm and its clients and, in addition to prison time, was ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution to his victims.

“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said in a statement. “South Carolinians turn to lawyers when they are at their most vulnerable, and in our state, those who abuse the public’s trust and enrich themselves by fraud, theft, and self-dealing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The sentencing hearing almost didn’t happen, as prosecutors filed a motion the week before trying to back out of their plea agreement with Murdaugh, claiming he failed a polygraph test and was, therefore, lying about where the money was spent.

The federal government based its attempt to revoke the plea agreement on the failed polygraph test but asked the courts not to release the results. Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a motion last week opposing the federal prosecutors’ request.


“To allow the Government to publicly accuse Murdaugh of breaching his plea agreement while also allowing the Government to hide all purported evidence supporting that accusation from the public would violate the public’s right to the truth,” Murdaugh’s attorneys, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, wrote in their motion, according to CNN.

Polygraph tests are not permitted as evidence in court because they are notoriously unreliable.

The attorneys argued in court documents that the polygraph Murdaugh failed was not reliable because the administrator admitted to Murdaugh that he had just tested Joran van der Sloot, who admitted to killing Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005.

“There are legitimate questions as to whether the Government intentionally manipulated the results to void the plea agreement and achieve the prosecutors’ stated desire to ‘ensure that he’s never a free man again,’” the attorneys wrote, according to the Associated Press.

Murdaugh admitted to stealing around $12 million from clients over the years after promising to help them with medical bills or pain and suffering. One victim, Jordan Jinks, had been a friend of Murdaugh’s since they were children. He asked Murdaugh to represent him after he incurred hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills for a neck injury resulting from someone rear-ending his car.

Jinks paid the bills, assured that Murdaugh would obtain a settlement to refund him. When Murdaugh received that settlement, he kept the money for himself.

“The money you stole from me, I would have gave it to you,” Jinks said during Murdaugh’s sentencing. “Why bro? Why?”

While taking responsibility for the financial crimes, Murdaugh adamantly denies killing his wife and son.

“I want to take responsibility. I want my son to see me take responsibility. It’s my hope that by taking responsibility that the people I’ve hurt can begin to heal,” Murdaugh said when pleading guilty in September.

Harpootlian, his defense attorney, noted at the time: “There’s two things Alex will tell you. One, he stole the money. Two, he did not kill Maggie and Paul.”

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