Alex Murdaugh charged with money laundering and drug fraud

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – Once prominent and soon disbarred South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh has been charged again, this time prosecutors said his crimes extended to an eight-year ring of money laundering and painkillers with a friend and former client accused of trying to help him commit suicide.

Murdaugh wrote 437 checks worth $2.4 million that Curtis “Eddie” Smith cashed over eight years, keeping some of the money for himself and giving the rest for wide-ranging illegal activity, according to charges filed last week. filed and unsealed on Tuesday.

That illegal activity included a “distribution network” for the painkiller oxycodone, according to prosecutors, who did not specify any of the other possible crimes. Both men were charged with possessing, manufacturing or distributing narcotics, but court records did not provide additional details.

It is Murdaugh’s 16th indictment on impeachment ranging from lying to the police and trying to arrange his own death to stealing money from customers to arranging $4.3 million in wrongful death benefits for a housekeeper who died in a fall in his house and then not giving her family a dime.

But still unsolved are the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and youngest son outside their home in June 2021. None of the new charges refer to their murders and both Murdaugh and Smith have said they had nothing to do with them.

Murdaugh and Smith started laundering more money and stopped taking precautions to avoid detection about three months before the murders, said Creighton Waters, the head of the state attorney general’s Grand Jury Division.

Waters did not provide further details during Smith’s hearing on Tuesday.

Murdaugh also awaits formal warrant revoke his law license† He decided not to fight against the Supreme Court’s state decision last week, ending the legal career of a member of a prominent family that has dominated the legal scene in small Hampton County for nearly a century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the area’s elected prosecutors for 87 years.

Murdaugh, 54, was charged in the latest charges with criminal conspiracy and possession, manufacture or distribution of narcotics.

Most of the charges were against Smith, who met Murdaugh when he needed an attorney for an employee compensation lawsuit. After his law firm discovered that he… steal moneySmith is the man Murdaugh told to call when he wanted someone to kill him so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.

Smith’s shot only grazed Murdaugh’s head on the side of a two-lane road last September, police said. Both men were charged with that incident last year.

Smith, 61, now faces four counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, possession, production or distribution of narcotics. trafficking in methamphetamine and other charges. Each money laundering charge in itself carries a prison term of up to 20 years.

At his hearing Tuesday, Smith told the judge that he was not drawn into the settlement by his own choice and that he looked forward to clearing his name. His bail was set at $250,000.

Smith’s attorney said he’s not sure his client can afford it.

“We’ll just have to wait and get more facts out,” Jarrett Bouchette said. “As we have seen over the past year, things have changed over time that were not what they initially appeared to be.”

According to the charges, Murdaugh wrote almost all of Smith’s checks for less than $10,000 to prevent banks from reporting large transactions.

Smith forged the names of both his daughter and his girlfriend in the eight years he handled Murdaugh’s checks, prosecutors said.

Smith is Murdaugh’s third associate and friend who be criminally prosecuted† The state jury has also indicted another attorney and banker, They said they were helping Murdaugh take money from customers.

In 81 charges against Murdaugh, prosecutors say he stole at least $8.4 million. He also faces a growing number r of civil lawsuits.

Earlier this month, the anniversary of June 7, 2021, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, died without arrests and without additional information from the State Law Enforcement Division. The officers have revealed little other than the fact that the two were shot outside their home in Colleton County and Murdaugh called 911saying that he had discovered the bodies.

Murdaugh has said he was visiting his mother and ailing father when his wife and son were murdered.

Murdaugh has been in prison since October on $7 million bail for various financial charges.

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP

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