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Disgraced former attorney Alex Murdaugh facing new tax evasion charges

By Alta Spells and Christina Maxouris, CNN

Disgraced former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, who has been accused of killing his wife and son and being involved in financial crimes and fraud schemes, is now facing a new set of tax evasion charges.

Murdaugh was indicted by the South Carolina State Grand Jury on nine counts of willful attempt to evade or defeat a tax, state Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release on Friday.

Murdaugh allegedly failed to report more than $6.9 million of income between 2011 and 2019 that he “earned through illegal acts,” according to the release. The former attorney owes more than $486,000 in state taxes, the release added.

According to the indictments, Murdaugh earned those millions through “an ongoing scheme to defraud” his former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) and his clients of proceeds from legal settlements.

“The funds derived through Murdaugh’s ongoing illegal activity were converted to personal use, and as such, are considered earned income,” the indictments say.

CNN has reached out to Murdaugh’s attorney for comment on the new charges.

A complicated bloody family tragedy

The Murdaugh case first garnered widespread national attention in early September 2021, after the once-prominent attorney was shot in the head on a roadway but survived. Court documents later revealed Murdaugh allegedly admitted to authorities he conspired with a former client to kill him as part of a suicidal fraud scheme so that his only surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance payout.

The incident marked the start of what has unraveled to become a complicated, yearslong bloody tragedy.

That same month, Murdaugh resigned from the law firm after it discovered he misappropriated funds, PMPED said at the time.

“We were shocked and dismayed to learn that Alex violated our principles and code of ethics. He lied and he stole from us,” PMPED said in a late September 2021 statement.

That same month, the state’s Supreme Court issued an order suspending his license to practice law in South Carolina.

Murdaugh’s attorney also said at the time his client had an opioid addiction and was in the early stages of treatment.

The South Carolina State Grand Jury has indicted Murdaugh for a total of 99 charges for schemes to defraud victims of more than $8.7 million, in addition to the money owed in state taxes, the state attorney general said.

He is accused of killing his wife and son

Murdaugh is also facing murder charges in connection to the deaths of his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, who were found shot to death on the family’s property in June 2021. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a motion filed earlier this month, prosecutors alleged Murdaugh’s motive for killing the two was to distract attention from the schemes he was running to avoid financial ruin.

“The evidence will show Murdaugh accrued substantial debts over a period of years and to uncover those debts began engaging in illicit financial crimes,” prosecutors wrote in the filing. “The evidence will further show these financial crimes were about to come to light at the time of the killings, more specifically on the date of the killings.”

The killings, prosecutors alleged, were Murdaugh’s attempt to “shift the focus away from himself and buy himself some additional time to try and prevent his financial crimes from being uncovered.”

Murdaugh’s murder trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Murdaugh wants the trial to begin quickly, his attorney has previously said, because he believes his wife and son’s “killer or killers are still at large.”

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CNN’s Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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