SC sisters sue Murdaugh friend Russell Laffitte over millions

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Two sisters who several years in the past obtained a multimillion-dollar settlement immediately after their mother died in a car or truck crash have sued previous financial institution CEO Russell Laffitte for profiting off and misusing the hundreds of thousands put in a conservatorship below his care.

Although now-disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh, a pal of Laffitte’s, is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, the lawsuit asserts that Murdaugh was the girls’ attorney. The suit states that in 2005 Murdaugh steered the sisters, 12-yr-old Alania Plyler and 8-year-aged Hannah Plyler to Laffitte, who worked at his family’s Hampton financial institution, Palmetto Condition Lender.

Palmetto State Financial institution is also a defendant in the circumstance, and the lawsuit notes that the financial institution and Murdaugh’s regulation agency — formerly acknowledged as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) — were being honored institutions in the Hampton group and the Laffittes and Murdaughs were venerable names.

“Like PMPED, Palmetto State Financial institution was a generational, familial establishment in Hampton County,” suggests the lawsuit, submitted in state court in Hampton County.

“Just as (Alex) Murdaugh had ascended to his seat at the PMPED table, on a parallel monitor, Russell Laffitte was coming into his ability at the Palmetto Condition Lender desk. The two climbing lions of their family members arrived collectively for the prosecution of the Plyler situations,” the lawsuit said.

Laffitte’s attorney Bart Daniel could not be achieved for comment by push deadline Palmetto State Financial institution legal professionals Trenholm Walker and Thomas Gressette also could not be reached by push deadline.

Murdaugh and Laffitte experience legal prices in state and federal courtroom for their alleged mishandling of revenue in the Plyler conservatorship.

Murdaugh was fired from his legislation company very last September. In January, Laffitte was fired from his career as Palmetto Point out Bank CEO.

‘They were just children’

The funds the ladies had been awarded in settlements came as a consequence of a July 2005 blow-out of their mother’s Ford Explorer’s Firestone tires, whose alleged problems were being linked to lots of fatalities on the nation’s highways.

When the tires unsuccessful on a extend of Interstate 95 in Hampton County, the Explorer remaining the street and struck a strand of pine trees, killing the girls’ mother, Angela Plyler, and their 14-calendar year-outdated brother Justin, the lawsuit said.

The girls, riding in the again seat, survived.

“Two adult men would appear into their life purportedly to aid them: a law firm, (Alex) Murdaugh, and a banker, Russell Laffitte,” the lawsuit reported. “While tens of millions of pounds had been recovered for the girls and even though massive charges had been paid out to the lawyer and the banker, chance abounded when the money hit the table.”

Laffitte, who was a bank vice president at the time, grew to become a “personal representative,” the human being in demand of the girls’ conservatorship, the lawsuit stated. In that potential, he doled out allowances, money for university books and other expenses they experienced, the lawsuit stated.

“Although Laffitte was obligation sure as a fiduciary for the girls to safeguard them and to defend their property, they had been just little ones who did not (and could not) recognize the advanced funds following the deaths of their mother and brother,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also outlines a collection of alleged machinations whereby Murdaugh and Laffitte took out loans from the conservatorship and built other employs of the dollars beneath Laffitte’s stewardship.

“Laffitte assisted himself to hundreds of 1000’s of bucks of ‘loans’ from the ladies and graced himself with sweetheart desire fees as small as 1.5%. He prolonged the similar courtesies to his great buddy (Murdaugh),” earning as several as 14 different loans to the attorney, the lawsuit explained.

One bank loan to Murdaugh, on Sept. 14, 2011, was for $90,000, the lawsuit reported.

One more bank loan to Murdaugh, on Sept. 11, 2012, was for $100,000, the lawsuit explained. In 2013, Laffitte took $70,000 out of the conservatorship to replenish a checking account that Murdaugh experienced overdrawn, the lawsuit stated.

In 2015, when Hannah turned 18 and was all set to suppose authorized possession of her account, Laffitte identified the account was short by $264,537. So to make up the difference, Laffitte took revenue from other conservatorships at the financial institution, the lawsuit alleged.

‘The ladies are concluded with remaining victimized’

Just after the girls’ mother died, the sisters resided with their father but afterwards stayed with several family members and lived largely in Lexington County, the lawsuit stated.

“Whether Laffitte appreciated it at the time or not, the women inevitably commenced to see him as a father figure in their life. He controlled their cash. He manufactured conclusions on their behalf. He was the just one that the ladies had to converse to in requesting revenue (their cash) for allowances, faculty materials, garments and Xmas gifts,’’ the lawsuit explained.

The lawsuit added, “What the women could not know, and did not know, is that despite the fact that Laffitte frequently sought court docket authorization for expenses on the girls’ behalf for nominal sums, he was supporting himself to hundreds of 1000’s of their dollars without having court docket acceptance for his individual particular use and was granting hundreds of countless numbers of bucks in personalized financial loans to his friend, Alex Murdaugh, once more without the need of courtroom approval.”

The Plyler’s lawsuit was introduced by lawyers Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, whose lawsuit from Murdaugh and some others very last September induced law enforcement investigations that lifted the curtain on huge allegations of fiscal fraud towards Murdaugh.

That lawsuit, brought on behalf of heirs of Gloria Satterfield, the deceased Murdaugh housekeeper who died in a slide at the property, alleged that Murdaugh and many others experienced misappropriated some $4.3 million in liability insurance policy revenue thanks the heirs.

That was the beginning of a wave of accusations, most of them made by indictments from the state grand jury, that have billed Murdaugh, at times aided by other individuals, with thieving some $8.5 million from his firm, fellow attorneys, associates and shoppers.

In a community statement, Bland and Richter said they had tried out to achieve an out-of-court settlement with the lender and Laffitte but had been not able to.

“While they (the Plyler sisters) would have chosen to take care of these issues privately, a non-public resolution proved extremely hard and so the Plylers will entrust this matter to the Courts and to the God-presented widespread sense of a potential jury. The women are finished with becoming victimized and abused by those people that were being entrusted to defend them,” the legal professionals stated.

This story was originally printed August 25, 2022 10:18 AM.

John Monk has covered courts, criminal offense, politics, general public corruption, the natural environment and other concerns in the Carolinas for much more than 40 several years. A U.S. Military veteran who protected the 1989 American invasion of Panama, Monk is a previous Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer. He has coated several demise penalty trials, including those of the Charleston church killer, Dylann Roof, serial killer Pee Wee Gaskins and boy or girl killer Tim Jones. Monk’s hobbies involve mountaineering, guides, languages, songs and a great deal of other matters.