Lawyers for former Palmetto State Bank (PSB) head Russell Laffitte, who was convicted of six federal financial crimes last October, filed a move for a new trial after his accused co-conspirator Alex Murdaugh Murders sought to exonerate Laffitte from the witness stand during his double murder trial.
By providing Murdaugh hundreds of thousands of dollars in incorrectly documented loans and substantial overdraft protection, Laffitte misused his position of authority as both a bank executive and a personal representative.
His new counsel contended in his second request for a new trial (.pdf) that the introduction of fresh evidence enabled him to re-litigate those accusations.
Financial improprieties involving Laffitte played a significant part in Murdaugh’s recently finished trial for the murders of his wife Maggie Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh, with prosecutors claiming that his financial predicament drove the terrible deaths.
Murdaugh chose to testify in his own defence, which exposed him to several inquiries concerning his financial misdeeds.
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In answer to those inquiries, Murdaugh repeatedly told jurors that he lied to and stole from multiple friends, family members, and customers – but that the offences were perpetrated alone by him.
“I don’t dispute any of this, that I stole money that wasn’t mine, that I deceived individuals who trusted me,” Murdaugh told the court.
Murdaugh stated he acted alone, which was crucial for Laffitte.
“Russell Laffitte never plotted with me to do anything; whatever I did was done by me,” he said. “This is something I did. I accomplished these things incorrectly.
Russell Laffitte did nothing… You keep bringing up things I did with Russell Laffitte, but what I want you to know is that I did this, and I am the one who stole money from individuals I shouldn’t have taken, and Russell Laffitte was not engaged in knowingly assisting me in doing so.”
“If he did it, he did it unaware,” Murdaugh remarked.
Murdaugh undoubtedly fought for the convicted fraudster, but even if his allegations were found trustworthy enough to warrant a fresh trial, they still fail to explain transactions carried out by Laffitte.
Which of these transactions? The payment of $650,000 to the legal firm of Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) after PSB management discovered Murdaugh and Laffitte’s deception. Laffitte negotiated this payment on his own, and as a jury of his peers determined… unlawfully.
This lawsuit comes only days after United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel refused Laffitte’s first request for a new trial.
This first petition, submitted by Laffitte’s previous lawyers, Bart Daniel and Matt Austin, was predicated on Gergel’s dubious removal of two jurors after hours of deliberation.
These two jurors were “improperly discharged,” according to the preliminary filing (.pdf).
If Gergel also dismisses this move, Laffitte’s next stop will be the appeal court, where he hopes his new lawyers, Mark Moore and Michael Parente of the Nexsen Pruet law firm, will be able to use their outside view on the jury switch to effectively establish Laffitte’s rights were violated.
At Laffitte’s trial, the prosecutors team, lead by assistant U.S. attorneys Emily Limehouse and Winston Holliday, was able to provide persuasive evidence that he must have been aware of the offences he committed.
The administration has until March 20 to respond to Laffitte’s most recent motion.
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