Murdaugh Family Murders: Law Firm CFO Explains Alex’s $2.8M Fraud Scheme

On Tuesday, the chief financial officer of Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm said that Alex scammed the firm and clients out of more than $2.8 million.

Jeanne Seckinger claimed that Alex was sending client settlements to a fake “Forge” account with Bank of America to make it appear as if a company they worked with for disbursements, named Forge Consulting, was handling the settlements. In actuality, it was an account being used for Alex’s personal use, she explained.

Alex allegedly also used the fake Forge account to steal fees connected to the cases he tried.

Seckinger also recounted a 2017 ordeal which reportedly entailed Alex cashing a $121,000 check twice that was mistakingly made out to him and was really for his brother. Alex allegedly cashed both checks but claimed he misplaced them. He eventually repaid the money.

Seckinger also testified that Alex attempted to divert $83,333 of a $250,000 settlement to his wife, Maggie, in an apparent attempt to hide assets as he faced a lawsuit in the 2019 death of Mallory Beach, 19.

Alex’s son, Paul, was allegedly impaired when he reportedly crashed his boat into Archer’s Creek Bridge in Beaufort County. Beach was ejected from the boat and killed; five other people aboard were injured. Paul was charged with felony boating under the influence in connection with Beach’s death, but he was murdered before he could face trial.

Seckinger said she was concerned with Alex’s actions because the firm “didn’t want any part of that.”

Seckinger claimed that less than five hours before the slayings, Alex called and asked about his 401(k) assets in regard to financial disclosures that would be called into question during the boat crash civil lawsuit. A hearing, in that case, was scheduled for June 10, 2021 — three days after Maggie and Paul’s murders.

During cross-examination, the defense emphasized that Maggie nor Paul had any knowledge of the alleged fraud at Alex’s law firm.

Shortly before she got off the stand, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Seckinger, “Did you ever really know Alex Murdaugh?”

To which she responded, “I don’t think anyone knows him.”

Seckinger had testified last week, but not in front of a jury. At that time, Judge Newman was deciding whether he would allow details of Alex’s financial crimes to be presented to a jury.

On Monday, Judge Newman ruled that evidence of Alex’s alleged fraud can be shown. He concluded that Alex’s financial crimes can show evidence of a motive in Maggie and Paul’s 2021 murders, which is not essential but may be crucial in the prosecution proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The state argues that the logical nexus between the murders and other crimes is that the looming exposure of financial crimes provided motive for the murders and is evidence of malice, an essential element of the crime of murder,” the judge said.

Judge Newman cited Jeanne Seckinger’s testimony as one of the reasons why he was making Alex’s other crimes admissible. Seckinger said last week that she had confronted Alex about missing money the same day his wife and son were fatally shot on the family’s property in Colleton County.

Seckinger said that in May 2021, she and Alex discussed structured settlements regarding the boat crash involving Paul. Alex reportedly sent those funds to Forge Consulting and was putting money in his wife’s name. Alex allegedly said he was sending the money to Forge as a favor to a friend, Michael Gunn, who was a top employee there.

When misappropriating funds, Alex often did not disclose any payouts or settlements to his clients so he could move the funds to the fraudulent account, according to Seckinger.

Seckinger said that in May 2021, she was alerted to a check obtained for client expenses by Chris Wilson, Alex’s longtime friend, though a fee check was not supplied. On May 27, 2021, she and a law firm partner reportedly emailed requesting documents regarding the disbursement. Alex was allegedly adamant that Wilson was paid and that the money would be available by the first week of June.

Seckinger testified that — on the day of the murders — she questioned Alex again when nothing was disbursed, eliciting a “dirty look” from Alex. The conversation was reportedly cut short because Alex got a phone call about his father’s ailing health.

In September 2021, the law firm discovered additional misappropriations of funds allegedly on Alex’s part. Seckinger said Alex’s signature was on a fee check and other checks. She also said he had checks on his desk.

Seckinger said they later learned that other payments had been made via Palmetto State Bank. Money was also held there for beneficiaries but it ended up being used by Alex for personal business, she testified.

According to Sekinger, two partners at the law firm eventually confronted Alex about the allegations — to which he confessed and resigned.

Prosecutors claimed Alex was motivated to kill his wife and son because he wanted to distract from his financial crimes.

Alex is believed to have acted alone in the 2021 slayings, allegedly shooting Maggie with a rifle and killing Paul with a shotgun on their Colleton County family property. He was reportedly filmed driving away from the lodge an hour before he called 911 to report their deaths. He allegedly carried out the double slaying after visiting his mother.

Last week, Colleton County detective Laura Rutland testified that there were no footprints located in the blood near Paul Murdaugh’s body even though Alex claimed he turned him over twice and checked his pulse.

Rutland also testified that she saw no blood on Alex — including on his shoes and hands. During cross-examination, Rutland would not say if, to her, Alex appeared to be the person who had just killed his son on their family’s property.

SLED agent Melinda Worley said she swabbed 10 different areas in Alex’s car and all of them returned presumptive positive results. She said she also photographed a 16-gauge shotgun shell located on the rear floorboard of his vehicle.

Prosecutors said cell phone data and forensic evidence tie Alex to the slayings. Meanwhile, Alex’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said the cell phone records were incomplete and asserted that Alex would be covered in blood if he killed his wife and son at close range. Harpootlian said no blood was found on Alex’s clothing.

In September 2021, months after Paul and Maggie’s slayings, Alex suffered superficial head wounds when he allegedly had former client Curtis Smith, 61, shoot him in the head so his surviving son, Buster, would receive a $10 million insurance payout.

A day before the shooting, Alex was forced out of his family law firm amid allegations he misappropriated funds.

Two days after the apparent botched suicide, Alex announced he was entering rehabilitation for drugs. Shortly thereafter, he was charged with insurance fraud in connection with the September 2021 suicide-for-hire plot and released on bail.

However, in October 2021, Alex was rearrested upon leaving a rehabilitation center in Florida for allegedly stealing $4.3 million from the estate of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who suffered a fatal fall on his property in February 2018.

In that case, he was accused of stealing insurance payouts that were intended for Satterfield’s family. Authorities plan to exhume her body amid an ongoing investigation regarding her death.

In addition to the murder charges, Alex faces more than 100 criminal counts related to fraud.

In June 2022, Alex and Smith were indicted for allegedly purchasing and distributing oxycodone in multiple counties. In December 2022, Alex was indicted for tax evasion for allegedly failing to claim the $6 million he allegedly earned through illegal acts between 2011 and 2019.

Alex was charged with Maggie and Paul’s murders days after he was formally disbarred by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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[Featured image: Jeanne Seckinger/Twitter video screengrab]