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Six months after being convicted of killing his wife and youngest son, Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to 22 counts of fraud and money laundering charges, marking the first time he has taken responsibility for any of the dozens of crimes he’s been accused of.
The disbarred South Carolina attorney, 55, is accused of defrauding his personal injury clients and laundering millions of dollars between 2005 and 2021, using settlement funds intended for those who hired him for his own benefit.
RELATED: Alex Murdaugh Agrees to Plead Guilty to 22 Federal Charges for Defrauding Clients Out of Millions
“I want to take responsibility,” Murdaugh told the judge in the Charleston courtroom, adding that he wanted to own up to his actions, in part for the sake of his surviving son Buster, according to the Associated Press. “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 entered his guilty plea while wearing his prison jumpsuit, as he’s currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole for murdering his wife Maggie and their son Paul in 2021, crimes he was convicted of and sentenced for in March.
Days after he was sentenced, Murdaugh’s lawyers said they would appeal the murder convictions, but earlier this month, his attorneys requested a new trial, alleging that the court clerk in the case tampered with the jury.
The motion they filed claims that Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill told jurors not to trust Murdaugh when he took the stand in his defense, that she pushed jurors to reach a verdict quickly, and that she had private conversations with the jury foreperson.
But even if the murder convictions were to be overturned, his guilty plea in the federal financial crimes case will likely mean he’ll face decades in prison regardless.
Each of the 22 counts carry a maximum sentence of either 20 or 30 years in prison. They include 14 counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, and a count each of bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
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The plea agreement states that Murdaugh must cooperate and adhere to specific guidelines, and in return the government will recommend that his federal sentence be served concurrent to any state sentences for the same alleged crimes, according to CNN.
“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,” the plea agreement states.
Murdaugh will also be required to work with the government to repay victims $9 million, take a polygraph test if asked to, and testify in other trials if requested, CNN reported.
A recommended sentence is not included in the deal. The judge signed the plea agreement and will hand down the sentence at a future date.
RELATED: Alex Murdaugh’s Lawyers Request New Trial, Accusing Court Clerk of Tampering with the Jury
A lawyer for multiple victims in Murdaugh’s financial crimes slammed the plea deal.
“Given the severity and callousness of his crimes, Alex Murdaugh should never receive any incentive-based deal from the government, be it federal or state, and we respectfully disagree with the federal government’s voluntary decision to concede to a concurrent sentence in exchange for his guilty plea and agreement to ‘cooperate,’” Justin Bamberg said, according to CNN.
“We trust that the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office will remain steadfast in its commitment to hold Murdaugh accountable and will give him no breaks and offer no incentives; that ship sailed years ago,” Bamberg continued.
Among the victims of the financial crimes Murdaugh admitted to this week were the estate of his maid, Gloria Satterfield, who died at the Murdaugh family home in a 2018 fall; a man who was paralyzed from an accident; and a pair of sisters whose mom and brother died in a crash when they were kids, the AP reported.
Murdaugh is also facing about 100 different charges in state court, including tax evasion, embezzlement, computer crime and money laundering. He’s headed to trial in November for some of those charges.