COLUMBIA, S.C. — A state grand jury on Thursday indicted disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh on a new array of financial crimes.
The four new indictments accuse Murdaugh of schemes to defraud victims of $2,273,959.98. He faces 19 new counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, and four counts of computer crimes.
Murdaugh, 53, a fourth-generation member of a prominent Lowcountry legal dynasty, was already facing 48 counts alleging he stole $6.2 million from clients, associates or his former law firm.
Those charges were contained in 12 indictments issued by the state grand jury in November and December.
The 16 indictments total allege that Murdaugh stole $8,875,944.45. In total, he faces 74 criminal charges, with 71 coming from the state grand jury and three additional Colleton County charges stemming from his botched murder-for-hire suicide attempt in September to gain insurance money for his elder son.
The indictments arise from alleged schemes to defraud victims two S.C. counties: Allendale and Hampton.
They involve four clients who separately were supposed to receive settlements from injuries or deaths in their family: a man, Arthur Badger, whose wife was killed in a car crash in 2011; a deaf Hampton man, Hakeem Pinckney, who became paralyzed after a car wreck; and Pinckney’s cousin Natasha Thomas.
The fourth indictment, which replaces a previous indictment, includes new charges against Murdaugh, accusing him of stealing $500,000 from an injured man, Deon Martin.
One of Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, reached by phone Friday, declined comment.
Murdaugh is being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia, unable to make the $7 million bond state Judge Alison Lee has imposed on him. His assets have been frozen and are being held by two receivers.
Since last June, when Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found slain at the family’s estate in Colleton County, Murdaugh has been the focus of growing national and even international media attention that includes network true-crime productions, docudramas and national newspaper and magazine stories.
His wife’s and son’s killings remain unsolved. Murdaugh has been described as “a person of interest” in the matter.
The sustained attention has brought a spotlight on the small county of Hampton and the Murdaugh family’s legacy there.
In early September, Murdaugh’s century-old family law firm forced him out amid allegations he misappropriated firm money, although the firm has declined to specify how much.
Days later, Murdaugh was involved in a botched suicide plot whose objective was to provide his surviving son, Buster, with a $10 million payout from a life insurance policy.
In mid-September, two sons for deceased Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield sued Murdaugh, alleging he and accomplices had misappropriated money in their mother’s estate.
Since then, revelations about the number of people, and the amounts of money Murdaugh allegedly stole using his lawyer’s job to help gain people’s trust , have grown apace.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office has said Murdaugh targeted people with close ties to his family or with little familiarity of the legal system, or both.
“It was the most trusting and most vulnerable that the allegations show this man preyed upon,” Creighton Waters, with the AG’s office, said at a recent bond hearing.
His law firm, previously known as Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, has rebranded itself as the “Parker Law Group.” The firm said Parker was the only living member from the firm’s original name. But the Hampton injury firm has also been facing months of scrutiny for Murdaugh’s alleged actions while he worked there.
Murdaugh’s law license has been suspended, and he is under investigation by a lawyers’ disciplinary group, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which operates under the aegis of the S.C. Supreme Court.