Murdaugh pleaded guilty to federal charges after he stole millions of dollars from his clients. The disgraced South Carolina lawyer is already serving two consecutive life sentences without parole for the murders of his wife, Maggie, and his son Paul in June 2021.
He insisted he was innocent throughout the highly publicized trial, but prosecutors said Murdaugh killed his family members because his instances of financial misconduct were about to go public. The prosecution said Murdaugh hoped their deaths would buy him sympathy and time.
Murdaugh is likely to serve years or even decades in prison for federal financial crimes, even if an appeal from the defense succeeds in overturning his conviction in state court. His sentencing for the federal case will occur at a later date, per the Associated Press.
On Thursday, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to 14 counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
“Our goal in holding him accountable for the financial crimes in federal court is to ensure that he’s never a free man again,” federal prosecutor Emily Limehouse said at a news conference, adding that the prosecution would seek a lengthy sentence.
Murdaugh told the judge in court on Thursday that he wanted to be held accountable for stealing from his clients and do right by his surviving son, Buster.
“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 via the Associated Press.
According to the plea deal, prosecutors will ask that the federal sentence run concurrently with any prison time that he is serving for state crimes. Murdaugh must also take a lie detector test if asked and pay back the $9 million he is accused of stealing.
“The Defendant agrees to be fully truthful and forthright with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies by providing full, complete and truthful information about all criminal activities about which he/she has knowledge,” Murdaugh’s plea deal reads, per the Associated Press.
Investigators said Murdaugh started stealing from his family law firm in 2005 by keeping fees that were meant to be shared and inflating his expenses. Prosecutors said he stole money from at least five clients and created fraudulent bank accounts.
Murdaugh still faces about 100 different charges in state court. Authorities claim he committed insurance fraud by trying to have someone kill him so Buster Murdaugh could get $10 million in life insurance. He also is accused of failing to pay taxes on money he stole, as well as taking settlement money and running a drug and money laundering ring. The trial for some of the charges is expected to begin in late November.