One by one, Alex Murdaugh’s accomplices are falling like dominos. Here’s what to know.

The circle of pain and suffering surrounding disgraced legacy attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh is a broad one.

His wife and youngest child are dead by his own hand.

His clients and family have been robbed and betrayed, a once hallowed legacy forever tarnished.

His family’s former powerhouse law firm is a shadow of itself, forced into rebranding and millions in debt to repay legal fees he admittedly stole.

His hometown community remains in a state of shock, disbelief and distrust in a broken system that loomed over them for a century.

Now, all of the known accused accomplices to his criminal activities – his alleged henchmen, co-conspirators and associates – are falling like dominoes one by one to the state and federal criminal justice systems.

From former bankers and lawyers to street-level drug dealers and con men, here is the latest legal status on all of Murdaugh’s men.

Former Hampton attorney Alex Murdaugh walks in the Colleton County Courthouse during the first day of jury selection in Walterboro, S.C. Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.

Walterboro man pleads guilty to money laundering, drug charges

According to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office, Jerry K. Rivers, 40, of Walterboro, pleaded guilty on Thursday, Aug. 17, to fraud, money laundering, drug charges, and other crimes in Kershaw County before Judge Clifton Newman, who is handling all of the Murdaugh criminal cases for the state.

On Aug. 16, 2022, the S.C. State Grand Jury indicted Rivers on only one charge, one count of obstruction of justice. Rivers and another suspect, Spencer Roberts, were indicted along with Murdaugh.

In that original charge, Rivers was accused of illegally taking a cell phone belonging to another person that had been arrested on Aug. 10, 2020, and hiding it from law enforcement in connection with a multi-county narcotics distribution ring involving Murdaugh.

During the course of the investigation into Murdaugh’s decade-long financial crime spree, Rivers was also hit with other charges, including fraud charges related to COVID pandemic unemployment scams, and drug crimes – namely selling opioid pills to another Murdaugh associate, Curtis Edward Smith, who then provided them to Murdaugh.

Altogether, Rivers pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of distribution of a controlled substance second offense Schedule II Narcotic (Roxicodone & Oxycodone), obstruction of justice, money laundering, computer crime and two counts of false statements or false representation.

The maximum sentence on the drug charges alone is 30 years, but in exchange for his guilty plea, the state agreed to sentence him to no less than five and no more than twenty years and to dismiss 13 other criminal charges against Rivers. 

Judge Newman agreed to defer sentencing until a later date in Colleton County General Sessions and agreed to allow Rivers’ bond conditions to be altered to include drug rehabilitation before his sentencing date, which has not been set.

In court, Rivers claimed that he did not know Murdaugh and had never met him, according to multiple media outlets in the Kershaw area.

Russell Laffitte during a virtual bond hearing on state grand jury charges.

Disgraced banker files appeal after federal prison sentence

Like Murdaugh, former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte, an heir to a Lowcountry banking dynasty and the linchpin to many of Murdaugh’s financial crimes, had been indicted in both state and federal courts and in November 2022 was convicted of conspiracy and bank/wire fraud charges in federal court.

On Aug. 1, 2023, Laffitte was sentenced to 84 months (seven years) in federal prison, to be served concurrently with any state prison sentence he may later receive, and $3.55 million in restitution to victims, in addition to other punitive fines and fees.

After sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel recommended that Laffitte be detained at Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Jesup in Georgia to facilitate family visitation and that he be screened for participation in the federal Bureau of Prison’s Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP).

Laffitte remains out on bond, pending notification by the BOP on his prison report date.

Pending full payment of restitution and fines, Judge Gergel also ruled that banking scion Laffitte be prohibited from selling, liquidating, or transferring any assets, including:

  • Bank of America stock;
  • Palmetto State Bank stock;
  • funds in a Nelson Mullins escrow account derived from the sale of his home at 300 Forest Drive, Varnville;
  • His South State Bank 401K/IRAs;
  • And his interest in the Laffitte Family Partnership. Prior to his indictment Laffitte owned nine percent of the family’s stock in Palmetto State Bank.

Despite what Judge Gergel reportedly considered a moderate sentence, and critics considered a light sentence, on Aug. 8, attorneys for Laffitte filed a notice of appeal of that sentence with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Eric Bland, attorney for several of Murdaugh and Laffitte’s alleged victims, responded to the sentence appeal with a strongly worded statement to the media on Twitter.

Laffitte now has a status conference for his S.C. State Grand Jury bank fraud and conspiracy charges scheduled for Aug. 23 at noon in Williamsburg County, said the S.C. Attorney General’s Office. Laffitte has pleaded not guilty on those charges. No state trial date has been set.

Cory Fleming, at left, with defense attorney Deborah Barbier, stands in the Hampton County Courthouse Friday for a status conference hearing on his criminal charges.

Suspended lawyer, Murdaugh friend Fleming to appear in state court

Alex Murdaugh’s college roommate, best friend and the godfather to his slain son, Paul, suspended Beaufort lawyer Cory Fleming, was also indicted in both federal and state courts. Unlike Laffitte, Fleming quickly pleaded guilty to federal charges, avoided a trial, was given a lesser sentence, and agreed to cooperate with the Murdaugh investigations.

On Aug. 15, Fleming, 54, was sentenced to 46 months, nearly 4 years, in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy. He was sentenced to 46 months in federal detainment, followed by three years of court-ordered supervision and probation, $102,221.90 restitution and a $20,000 fine. He chose to self-report immediately and was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals.

Like Laffitte, Fleming is expected to be housed at FCI Jesup.

Fleming’s attorney, Deborah Barbier, confirmed Friday that Fleming will also have a status conference hearing at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 23, in Williamsburg County before Judge Newman. Fleming, despite his federal detainment, is required to be there, said his attorney.

It is possible that Fleming will enter a guilty plea on state charges as well, but Barbier declined to comment on the upcoming hearing.

Photo of Curtis Edward Smith taking a polygraph test in May of 2022.

What is the latest on Alex Murdaugh’s other alleged accomplices?

Spencer Roberts, who was indicted in 2022 on money laundering, fraud and drug charges related to Murdaugh’s enterprises, has a state court trial scheduled for Dec. 18 in Colleton County Court of Common Pleas.

Curtis Edward Smith, indicted in state court on drug and money laundering charges, as well as charges related to Murdaugh’s September 2021 roadside shooting scam, is suffering from serious health problems and remains on bond and house arrest. No trial date has been set for Smith.

Follow Michael DeWitt’s reporting as The Hampton County Guardian/Greenville News and the USA Today Network continue to follow cases related to the Murdaugh crime saga. Follow DeWitt on Facebook and on Twitter at @mmdewittjr for the latest updates.

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