Alex Murdaugh sentenced to 40 more years in prison for financial crimes

Murdaugh is already serving two life sentences for murdering his wife and son.

April 1, 2024, 3:27 PM

Alex Murdaugh, who is already serving two life sentences for the murder of his wife and child, was sentenced Monday to 40 more years in prison for financial crimes, according to Charleston, South Carolina, ABC affiliate WCIV.

Murdaugh, 55, pleaded guilty in September to the 22 federal charges -- including bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering -- for stealing millions of dollars from his South Carolina law firm.

"I've never seen this type of conduct, a massive fraud over many years," U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said during the sentencing hearing, according to WCIV.

Over the course of more than a decade, Murdaugh conducted multiple fraud schemes, including redirecting settlement money intended for the personal injury firm's clients into a personal bank account, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

He has admitted to his financial crimes, saying he was in the throes of a yearslong opioid addiction.

In a press conference outside the courthouse, U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said Monday's sentence "was about obtaining justice for the financial victims of Alex Murdaugh."

"These victims are not just names listed in a court filing," she said. "They are real people who trusted an attorney at the most difficult times of their lives -- when they had lost loved ones, when they were severely injured -- and they were betrayed in those vulnerable moments."

Hours after the firm's CFO approached Murdaugh in June 2021 about a large sum of missing company money, Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, were found dead at the family's hunting lodge with gunshot wounds.

Murdaugh was convicted last March for the double murder, and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole. He has never admitted to the killings, which prosecutors say he carried out to divert attention from the financial wrongdoing he believed was about to be revealed.

Alex Murdaugh stands next to the witness booth during a break in his murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Feb. 23, 2023, in Walterboro, S.C.
Joshua Boucher/Pool/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images, FILE

He has also pleaded guilty to state charges for fraud, and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In a sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors previously recommended Murdaugh be sentenced to between 17 and 22 additional years behind bars for his financial crimes.

Murdaugh "spent most of his career deceiving everyone in his personal and professional circles -- unburdened by his own conscience," the memorandum states.

"The scope and pervasiveness of Murdaugh's deceit is staggering," it continues. "He ranks as one of the most prolific fraudsters this state has ever seen. When the house of cards began to fall, Murdaugh murdered his wife and son."

Gergel chose to sentence Murdaugh even more harshly than prosecutors suggested because he chose to steal from "the most needy, vulnerable people" who sought out his personal injury firm for help.

"They placed all their problems and all their hopes on Mr. Murdaugh and it is from those people he abused and stole," Gergel said. "It is a difficult set of actions to understand."

He was also ordered Monday to pay $8,762,731.88 in restitution, WCIV reported.

At his sentencing hearing, Murdaugh apologized to the victims of his scheme, saying he felt "guilt, sorrow, shame, embarrassment, humiliation."

"There's not enough time and I don't possess a sufficient vocabulary to adequately portray to you in words the magnitude of how I feel about the things I did," Murdaugh said.

Last week, attorneys for Murdaugh said he failed a polygraph test, constituting a violation of his plea agreement that requires him not to lie.

The defense attorneys argued he should be released from those terms, saying the FBI agent who administered the polygraph had muddled the results by asking odd questions and "confiding" in him that he'd just examined Natalee Holloway killer Joran Van der Sloot.