HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A Hampton County judge has granted an order freezing the assets of disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh and his son, Buster, as lawsuits against the members of the legal dynasty pile up.
The order was granted as part of a wrongful death suit brought by Renee Beach, whose daughter Mallory died in a 2019 boat crash in which Alex’s late son Paul was allegedly driving drunk.
Since Paul and his mother, Margaret, were brutally shot to death at the family home in June, a complicated web of financial crimes woven over the years by Alex has begun to unravel.
The landslide appeared to culminate with an assisted suicide attempt by Alex, who allegedly hired a hitman to shoot him and make it look like a suicide so that Buster could collect a $10 million life insurance policy, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
The scheme revealed that the once-wealthy lawyer was in dire financial straits, which he blamed on a decades-long opioid addiction. Alex stole millions of dollars from his own law firm, from the wrongful death settlement of his former housekeeper who died after an alleged fall at the Murdaugh’s home, and from family members.
As Alex’s secrets were unearthed, he quietly signed power of attorney over to Buster. At that point, Buster began moving money around in a way that concerned many of the parties that brought lawsuits against the Murdaughs, who worried that the men were working to get rid of or hide assets so that they would not have to pay their victims, should the courts rule in the victims’ favors.
The order freezing the assets is intentionally broad, according to the judge. It applies to “all assets, future interests, beneficial interests, inherited assets, assets transferred, real property, securities, stocks, promissory notes, mortgages, partnership interests, interest in all limited liability companies and similar types of entities, options, bonds, rents, leases, annuities, contract rights, creditor rights, easements, chattel, livestock, mineral rights, all useful things, liabilities capable of being recharacterized as assets, intellectual property, all rights to name, image or likeness, all publication rights to the events related in any way to Alex Murdaugh and contract rights and all other things, rights and interests without limitation that may be monetized for value, whether known or unknown, whether it is presently owned, held or controlled or was previously owned, held or controlled or will be owned, held or controlled in the future, whether actual or contingent, whether owned, held or controlled directly or indirectly and/or whether owned, held or controlled in whole or in part by Defendant Richard Alexander Murdaugh (“Alex Murdaugh”). For the avoidance of doubt, the term “Alex Murdaugh Assets” includes any and all assets transferred, concealed, hidden, sold, encumbered, or otherwise disposed of which previously were owned, held or controlled by Alex Murdaugh, directly or indirectly and in whole or in part.”
The same criteria was set for Buster. Likewise, the order revoked Buster’s power of attorney.
Co-Receivership of the assets was granted to John T. Lay Jr. and Peter M. McCoy Jr.
The men are tasked with “[taking] any and all steps necessary to identify, recover, protect, collect, preserve, receive, manage, liquidate, sell, administer and marshal, and to do all things incidental, necessary and/or appropriate thereto, all of the Subject Assets during the pendency and final resolution of this lawsuit.”
This means they have the power to do things like access Murdaugh storage units and safety deposit boxes, change locks on houses believed to contain assets, sell land and property belonging to the Murdaughs, and investigate tax records.
Lay and McCoy are given the power to hire any parties they see fit in this pursuit, which will be paid for by the Murdaugh assets.
The order also stipulates that “Alex Murdaugh and Buster Murdaugh, respectively, may not be sued in a civil matter outside this Court without obtaining the Co-Receivers’ consent or an order of this Court prior to doing so.”
An expiration date on the freeze was not set in the order.