Banking

Former Palmetto Bank CEO sentenced to 7 years in connection with Murdaugh scams

Russell Laffitte of Palmetto State Bank is set to serve 7 years in jail for defrauding a variety of customers together with ex-lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who was founded guilty of murder previously this year.

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Russell Laffitte, previous CEO of Palmetto State Bank in Hampton, South Carolina, was sentenced to 7 years in jail for assisting Alex Murdaugh, the founded guilty killer and disbarred legal representative, in a scams case Tuesday. 

Last November, Laffitte was founded guilty of wire scams, bank scams and misapplication of bank funds as a conservator to previous injury lawyer Murdaugh. The trial detailed a decade-long cooperation that included taking and mishandling cash from Murdaugh’s injury customers, much of whom were kids at the time. 

“Russell Laffitte used his position of power and trust to steal from unusually vulnerable victims,” stated U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs in a news release. “His crimes undermine the public’s trust in the judicial and banking systems.” 

In addition to his sentence, Laffitte has actually been purchased to pay nearly $3.6 million dollars in restitution to victims. 

Laffitte has actually stated he means to appeal the sentence. His lawyers, Mark Moore and Michael Parente of Maynard Nexsen, argued that Laffitte was a pawn in Murdaugh’s plan and not an active conspirator, according to the Post and Courier. Previously, Laffitte had 2 appeals for a retrial declined.

The lawyers decreased to openly comment at this time. 

The preliminary indictment highlighted that Laffitte, who was an officer at Palmetto at the time, and his co-conspirators “knowingly and intentionally” participated in a plan to defraud Murdaugh’s injury customers. 

Murdaugh had actually likewise been charged for these criminal offenses and others in late 2021, accumulating to 71 different charges including numerous million taken dollars. But in March 2023, he was founded guilty of the murder of his better half and child, who were discovered dead of gunshot injuries near the canine kennels of the household’s Hampton County searching estate. 

After Laffitte’s indictment, the lender called Murdaugh a “manipulative egomaniac” who utilized him “like a pawn to facilitate the theft” on a YouTube series in November 2022.

“We knew him, we knew his family,” stated Laffitte. “He would always come up with money. He may have borrowed it from other people. It was not that uncommon for him to have a shortfall during the year and then pay it off.”

The indictment information 4 customer relationships that Laffitte clearly made the most of, making incorrect declarations and leaving out truths concerning their savings account. 

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel who bied far the sentence informed the Post and Courier that Laffitte dealt with victims like “players on a chessboard.”

In one circumstances in 2011, young siblings Alania Spohn and Hannah Plyler, who lost their mom and sibling in an auto accident, worked with Murdaugh to handle their financial resources till they turned 18. 

Laffitte paid himself $355,000 and Murdaugh $990,000 with funds from the siblings’ conservatorship account, according to the indictment. 

In a courthouse-steps television interview with ABC News, Ronnie Richter, the siblings’ lawyer, stated, “We’re trying on a broader scale to deter that same kind of conduct. I think the message and the verdict is going to do just that.”

The indictment stated that such transfers were made when Murdaugh’s accounts entered into overdraft of numerous hundred thousands. Laffitte likewise supervise Murdaugh moving funds in between victims’ accounts to handle the inconsistencies.

Laffitte likewise re-directed dispensation checks indicated for the conservator accounts back to Murdaugh’s individual accounts, and gathered costs for his own conservatorship on accounts where he “never managed the money,” according to the indictment.

“I would think a lot of banks built on relationships are probably seeing what happened and are making sure that they don’t have similar lack of safeguards,” stated Nathan Williams, a lawyer and previous criminal chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of South Carolina. “It certainly shows how those types of relationships can get out of hand and can become aggravated.”

Gabriel

A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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