Bank CEO Fired Over Links to Murdaugh Investigation: Report

A member of another storied South Carolina family lost his job at the family business on Friday after his name surfaced in the ever-broadening investigations into the affairs of disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh.

The board of directors of Palmetto State Bank fired CEO Russell Laffitte after subopoenas from the South Carolina Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel — investigating allegations that Murdaugh defrauded clients and his family-founded law firm — named him and a bank vice president, the Island Packet reported.

The court has no power over the bankers, but apparently Laffitte’s mention in the Murdaugh investigation was enough to move the board to action.

“Palmetto State Bank has this afternoon permanently severed the employment of Russell Laffitte, effective immediately,” board president Jan Malinowski said in a statement on Friday. “The bank and its board of directors remain fully committed to their customers, employees, shareholders, and the communities Palmetto State Bank serves.”

Laffitte’s family founded the bank in 1907, three years before Murdaugh’s great-grandfather founded the law firm that fired him when allegations that he stole millions from the company and its clients came to light. It’s not clear if Russell Laffitte remains on the bank’s board of directors, where he was listed in 2020 year end reports, along with board chairman Charles Laffitte Jr and many other members of the family.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Laffitte and bank vice president Chad Westendorf were named in relation to several of Murdaugh’s alleged schemes, including one in which he reportedly defrauded a deaf quadriplegic man and another involving a former highway patrolman who was injured while on duty. Westendorf is also currently serving as board president for the Independent Banks of South Carolina.

Murdaugh is being held on a $7 million bond, charged with 48 counts related to the fraud schemes and three more related to his alleged “suicide for hire” plot as all the other schemes began to unravel. As CrimeOnline reported, more indictments are expected soon — and they may name co-conspirators.

Additionally, Murdaugh has been a person of interest in the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul in June. State investigators looking into the murders have been exceptionally tightlipped, but earlier this week, FITSNews reported they were told by sources that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had found “direct evidence” linking him to the killings. SLED declined to comment on the report.

Murdaugh is also facing multiple civil lawsuits, some relating to the fraud schemes and some relating to the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed when a boat allegedly driven by a drunk Paul Murdaugh crashed into bridge pilings in 2018.

See all CrimeOnline’s reporting on the Murdaugh stories.

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[Featured image: Russell Laffitte/Twitter and Alex Murdaugh/police handout]