Ex-CEO Russell Laffitte cooperates with Murdaugh investigation

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The Murdaugh family saga dominated the news after another shooting, resignation and criminal charges – with Alex Murdaugh at the center of it all. Here are the latest updates on Alex Murdaugh.

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The fired CEO of a Hampton bank, who oversaw cases in which Alex Murdaugh allegedly stole millions from customers, says he has been cooperating with law enforcement “since the investigation began” and that he had hired lawyers.

Lawyers for Russell Laffitte, who was fired as CEO of Palmetto State Bank on Jan. 7, released a statement Thursday afternoon, a week after Murdaugh was charged with stealing money from clients in business involving Laffitte as legal representative.

“Contrary to published reports, Mr. Laffitte has cooperated fully with the authorities since the start of the investigation and will continue to cooperate,” according to the statement of new lawyers for Laffitte, Matt Austin and Bart Daniel, of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. in Charleston.

It is unclear which reports and which authorities the statement refers to.

“Any further comment would be inappropriate due to the confidential nature of the government’s investigation into Alex Murdaugh,” he said.

The statement appears to be an attempt to steer Laffitte away from Murdaugh, who was accused in last week’s indictments of embezzling nearly $2.3 million from four victims.

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Russell Laffitte (left) and Alex Murdaugh (right) come from two influential Hampton families. Laffitte, fired as CEO of Palmetto State Bank on Jan. 7, 2022, has come under fire for transactions he oversaw related to cases in which suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh is accused of financial misconduct. [email protected]

Laffitte and Palmetto State Bank have been in the spotlight for the past few weeks and now with the indictments. Reporters learned that Laffitte had been inexplicably appointed curator and personal representative for some victims.

These roles, which usually fall to a responsible family member, meant that they were responsible for overseeing the settlement money they earned.

Laffitte collected fees from the accounts of those victims, including that of a deaf Hampton man, Hakeem Pinckney, who became a quadriplegic following a car accident in 2009, according to attorney Justin Bamberg. He represents the Pinckney family.

Murdaugh helped Pinckney and his family get a tire company settlement after the crash. The state’s grand jury charged Murdaugh with taking nearly $750,000 from the Pinckney family’s settlement funds.

Laffitte also served as personal representative for the estate of Arthur Badger’s wife. In last week’s indictments, Murdaugh is accused of taking a total of $1.3 million from her estate.

Laffitte has not been charged with a crime.

In total, Murdaugh faces 71 financial criminal charges alleging he stole approximately $8.4 million.

Laffitte’s former employer severed ties with him on January 7. The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette learned of the dismissal after asking the bank to comment on news that the SC Supreme Court‘s disciplinary arm had issued subpoenas for records of the cases Laffitte and Murdaugh were working on. in Hampton County.

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The exterior of Palmetto State Bank in Hampton on January 12, 2022. [email protected] Jake Shore

“We don’t believe the board has been made aware of this, the implications we found of where Russell Laffitte served as trustee,” an attorney for Palmetto State Bank said in an interview last week. .

Bamberg, however, said the bank and Laffitte should be held accountable.

“There were a host of failures that drove and enabled Alex Murdaugh and Russell Laffitte to do what they were doing,” he said.

This story was originally published January 27, 2022 6:35 p.m.

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Jake Shore is a senior news writer covering breaking news for The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. He reports on the criminal justice, police and court systems of Beaufort and Jasper counties. Jake is from sunny California and attended school at Fordham University in New York. In 2020, Jake won the top prize for police reporting from the South Carolina Press Association.

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