Bamberg attorney Chris Wilson says he helped with the investigation that led to charges against his longtime friend and colleague, Richard Alex Murdaugh.
Murdaugh is accused of pocketing legal fees in Bamberg County. He’s also facing multiple charges in other counties.
“I am deeply troubled, disappointed and angry,” Wilson said in a Tuesday afternoon press release sent by the Strom Law Firm.
“I have known Alex Murdaugh for 30 years, but friendship doesn’t replace facts. Alex has to be held accountable for this situation and seemingly others,” Wilson added.
On Thursday, a state grand jury indicted Murdaugh on 27 new charges, including allegations connected to Bamberg and Orangeburg counties.
The Bamberg County charges include: four counts of obtaining signatures or property by false pretenses, three counts of money laundering and one count of computer crime valued more than $10,000.
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The indictment alleges Murdaugh pocketed $792,000 after he convinced a Bamberg County attorney to write checks to him instead of the Hampton County law firm where Murdaugh once worked.
Wilson says he worked with S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigators to outline a series of events involving Murdaugh allegedly diverting fees from a 2021 settlement for his own use, Tuesday’s press release states.
Wilson’s attorneys accuse Murdaugh of misleading him about the Hampton County law firm’s role.
“Chris Wilson clearly put his faith and trust in the wrong person,” said Bakari Sellers, an attorney with Strom Law Firm.
“The good news is that this situation only involved attorney fees and no client funds were ever missing or mishandled,” Sellers added.
The indictment claims Murdaugh convinced the Bamberg County attorney to write a $192,000 check, a $225,000 check and a $375,000 check “for Murdaugh’s share of the fees to him personally rather than following the normal practice of writing the checks to Murdaugh’s law firm.”
Murdaugh allegedly told the attorney he was going to structure the fees, in part, because of possible civil liability in a case involving a boat crash in which a young woman died.
Instead, Murdaugh allegedly made online transfers to convert part of this money to make personal credit card payments, handle family expenses and to write checks to family members, associates and a law partner, according to the indictment.
Strom Law Firm founder Pete Strom said, “Our client is clear proof that a person doesn’t have to have done anything wrong to have knowledge useful to an investigation.”
“Our hope is that other individuals with knowledge will follow Mr. Wilson’s example and step forward,” Strom said.
The most recent charges accuse Murdaugh of laundering a total of almost $4.9 million, according to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.
Indictments were filed in Bamberg, Orangeburg, Allendale, Beaufort and Colleton counties.
The indictment filed in Orangeburg County accuses Murdaugh of taking money from a state trooper who hired him after being injured in the line of duty in January 2018.
Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh was trying to hide money from lawyers who sued him and his family over the death of a teenager in a 2019 boat crash.
His son, Paul Murdaugh, was charged after investigators said he was driving his father’s boat drunk and recklessly.
Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were later shot to death. No one has been charged in their deaths.
Richard Alex Murdaugh remains jailed on previous charges.
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