Alex Murdaugh can’t use more 401(k) funds to pay for murder appeal, judge rules


A South Carolina judge on Friday denied Alex Murdaugh’s request to dip back into a pool of protected funds he hoped to use to pay legal costs for a pending appeal of his murder conviction.

Judge Daniel Hall in a ruling Friday afternoon ordered Murdaugh cannot access an additional $160,000 from his liquidated 401(k) assets to pay expenses and fees for his lawyers Jim Griffin, Dick Harpootlian and their associates.

“After careful consideration, defendant Richard Alexander Murdaugh’s motion for payment of attorneys’ fees and costs from untainted funds is denied,” the court order reads.

Murdaugh’s lawyers last month petitioned Judge Hall for permission to tap into additional proceeds from Murdaugh’s retirement fund in order to pay for expected costs of Murdaugh’s murder appeal.

Attorneys for people Murdaugh has victimized were strongly against the proposal.

“Feeling really good with Judge Hall’s ruling denying Alex Murdaugh‘s request for $160,000 of attorney’s fees for his appeal,” lawyer Eric Bland said on Friday. “I argued it would be unfair to Alex‘s victims and creditors to permit him to jump to the front of the line and grab that money. ”

Griffin, Harpootlian and company initially received $600,000 from the 401(k) proceeds to fund Murdaugh’s murder trial defense but say those funds have been exhausted.

The remaining $400,000-plus balance of Murdaugh’s seven-figure retirement account went into the court’s custody as part of a deal struck between Murdaugh’s lawyers and neutral attorneys placed in charge of Murdaugh’s finances by the court.

Judge Hall in October 2021 placed John T. Lay & former U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy in control of Murdaugh’s assets through what’s known as a receivership.

Lay and McCoy’s duties are to recover, account, preserve and marshal expenditure of Murdaugh’s remaining money for the benefit of several interested parties.

Those include people who’ve sued Murdaugh and may be entitled to recover damages, people the court may order Murdaugh to pay restitution for various crimes he committed, and people Murdaugh generally owes money.

Lay and McCoy were given charge of Murdaugh’s money and assets after it became clear in Fall 2021 Murdaugh and his family were attempting to liquidate and hide assets to limit what they might have to pay potential victims in upcoming legal battles.

Among those pursuing monetary compensation from Murdaugh are the family of Mallory Beach, a young woman who died in a boating accident where Murdaugh’s deceased son Paul was said to have drunkenly crashed his father’s boat into a bridge.

The Beach family sued Murdaugh weeks after the crash, and imminent financial discovery in the case leading to exposure of his countless frauds and thefts is believed to have been the decisive factor in Murdaugh’s decision to murder his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, in June 2021.

Another family awaiting recompense from Murdaugh is that of Gloria Satterfield, a longtime domestic worker for Murdaugh’s family who died under mysterious circumstances after a fall at Murdaugh’s home in February 2018.

Murdaugh is facing lawsuits and criminal charges for an elaborate insurance fraud scheme in which he stole the lion’s share of $4.3 million in settlement funds intended for Satterfield’s surviving sons, one of whom isna vulnerable adult.

Murdaugh had not been charged with the murders of his wife and son at the time his accounts were frozen and placed under control of the receivership. However, Murdaugh’s 401(k) was not subject to the receivership at the time.

Once Murdaugh was indicted for Maggie and Paul’s murders, attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian offered Lay and McCoy access to a significant chunk of Murdaugh’s retirement account in exchange for being able to keep a large portion of the money to fund his defense.

Lay and McCoy agreed to the initial request and the account was liquidated, but they opposed Griffin’s additional request for funds at a hearing on May 3, saying it defied the spirit of the receivership.

Bland and Mark Tinsley, attorneys for the Satterfield and Beach families, also staunchly opposed the request, saying it amounted to Murdaugh victimizing their clients all over again.

A Colleton County jury on March 2 convicted Alex Murdaugh of murdering his wife and son, and Judge Clifton Newman on March 3 sentenced Murdaugh to two life prison sentences as punishment. Murdaugh continues to maintain his innocence.

Murdaugh is in a South Carolina prison in protective custody as he awaits trial on 99 pending criminal charges related to various financial crimes, along with trials for various pending lawsuits against him.

Attorneys Mark Tinsley and Jim Griffin did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this news Friday afternoon.

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