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Murdaugh sentenced to 40 years for federal financial crimes

Alex Murdaugh sits during an evidentiary hearing at the Richland County Courthouse on Tuesday, Jan.16, 2024. (Tracy Glantz/The State/TNS)
April 02, 2024

Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced former lawyer convicted of murdering his wife and son in a bid to hide more than a decade of thefts, was sentenced to 40 years Monday for his federal financial crimes.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, in federal court in Charleston, said Murdaugh’s sentence would run concurrent to his state charges.

The sentencing follows a plea agreement signed last September with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina. Murdaugh, a fourth generation descendant of a powerful legal and political dynasty in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, had pleaded guilty to 22 charges, among them wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors allege that Murdaugh abused his position of power to use the courts and South Carolina’s banking system to steal almost $11 million from more than 20 victims since 2005. Murdaugh is serving two consecutive life sentences after being found guilty of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son Paul. Last November, he was also sentenced to 27 years in prison after pleading guilty to state financial crime charges.

Murdaugh received 10 years more than the 30-year sentence requested by federal prosecutor, Emily Limehouse, representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina.

“This verdict we make today we make for the United States, we make for this court, we make in the interests of justice,” Gergel said.

Earlier, Murdaugh addressed the court, saying that he took responsibility for his crimes, describing his heavy opiate use and claiming addiction was a key factor in his thefts. He pledged to try to make his victims whole.

“I want you to know and I want the victims to know, I am filled with sorrow, I am filled with remorse, I am filled with guilt,” Murdaugh said. “I am very committed to trying to be a better person.”

At times hesitant and appearing to choke on his words, the former attorney renowned for his quicky thinking and ability to speak to anyone said, “Judge, I know there’s not enough time and I don’t possess sufficient vocabulary to express to you in words the magnitude of what I feel about what I did — as you pointed out for a long period of time. … I literally am filled with sorrow and I am filled with guilt.”

Murdaugh placed his addiciton to painkillers at the heart of his thefts. Now 937 days sober, Murdaugh said of his opioid usage, “One of the reasons that my addiction grew to the extremes that it did is that I was using opiates to hide from the things I was doing to people that I cared about … I hope, I hope — with every cell of my existence — I hope that I would not have done the things that I did had I not been addicted to opiates.”

But after Murdaugh’s speech, Gergel said: “ No truly impaired person could pull off these complex transactions.” Instead, the judge said, Murdaugh used his “charm and charisma” to “seduce” a web of conspirators by the “siren song of affluence” to assist him in his thefts.

The court has also determined that Murdaugh owes $8,762,731.88 in restitution.


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