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Attorney on latest Murdaugh indictments: ‘The system failed’

Charleston WCSC-TV logo Charleston WCSC-TV 5/5/2022 Patrick Phillips
Attorney Justin Bamberg, who represents the mother of Hakeem L. Pinckney, spoke to reporters at the Statehouse Thursday morning in Columbia on recent grand jury indictments against suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh and former banker Russell Laffitte. © Provided by Charleston WCSC-TV Attorney Justin Bamberg, who represents the mother of Hakeem L. Pinckney, spoke to reporters at the Statehouse Thursday morning in Columbia on recent grand jury indictments against suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh and former banker Russell Laffitte.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The attorney representing the family of a man killed in a 2011 crash who said hundreds of thousands of dollars were misappropriated is calling for justice after a prominent Lowcountry attorney and a banker were indicted this week.

Attorney Justin Bamberg, who represents the mother of Hakeem L. Pinckney, spoke to reporters at the Statehouse Thursday morning in Columbia. Pinckney was 21 when he died after a 2011 crash.

“We’re talking about the legal system, its integrity. And as a practicing attorney that’s something I take very seriously,” Bamberg said. “People have to be able to trust their lawyers in the state of South Carolina, period, there are no ands, ifs or buts. And trust was broken here. People need to be able to trust our state’s banking institutions, no ands, ifs or buts.”

Bamberg’s comments came a day after a state grand jury announced multiple indictments against suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh and former banker Russell Laffitte. One of the three indictments mentions Pinckney’s case.

The grand jury charged Murdaugh and Laffitte together with one count of criminal conspiracy for allegedly conspiring to surreptitiously misappropriate to Murdaugh $309,581.46 in funds Laffitte held in trust as conservator for Hakeem L. Pinckney and his estate at Palmetto State Bank.

Laffitte, 51, was the former chief executive officer of that bank until he was fired on Jan. 7, South Carolina Attorney General’s Office spokesman Robert Kittle said.

Prosecutors allege Laffittee misappropriated those funds in part to allow Murdaugh to pay back loans Laffitte had issued to him from client funds in an unrelated case. Laffitte served as a fiduciary in both the Pinckney case and the unrelated case, Kittle said.

“I just don’t, I just can’t comprehend how for over a decade, it wasn’t caught. The systems failed, and we just got to make sure that it doesn’t fail again,” Bamberg said.

Bamberg said a hearing on the new charges could come as soon as Friday.

Murdaugh, 53, was suspended from the practice of law by Order of the Supreme Court of South Carolina on Sept. 8, 2021. Altogether, through 15 indictments containing 79 charges against Murdaugh, the State Grand Jury has indicted Murdaugh for schemes to defraud victims of $8,492,888.31, South Carolina Attorney General’s Office spokesman Robert Kittle said.

Through three indictments containing 21 charges against him, the State Grand Jury has indicted Laffitte for schemes to defraud victims of $1,832,772.30, Kittle said.

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