May 6, 2022
Fraud Friday – CEO of Palmetto State Bank Accused of Defrauding Families Out of More than $3.75 Million
Russell Laffitte checked himself into the Kershaw County Detention Center this morning, prior to his bond hearing, after being named in three superseding indictments from the state grand jury after being identified as a third associate of Alex Murdaugh, an attorney alleged to have executed thefts, money laundering, and fraud schemes. Laffitte received 21 charges for allegedly conspiring to steal $660,000 in settlement proceeds and $1.2 million from accounts he controlled at Palmetto State Bank, and his bond is set at $1 million.
Murdaugh would convince the victims to appoint Russell as their conservator. As the conservator of one bank client’s accounts that he was entrusted and empowered to protect, he would allegedly accept checks intended for the victims from Murdaugh and instead misappropriate the funds. The indictment states that Laffitte aided Murdaugh in purchasing money orders payable to Murdaugh or his relatives.
In another instance, Murdaugh used a victim’s trust account check to purchase money orders and help pay down a personal business loan that he borrowed from client conservatorship accounts, obtain cash for himself, and obtain cash for a family member. Russell would allegedly use the bank’s computer systems to create the money orders and perform internal loan transactions for Murdaugh. This frequently involved borrowing money from one account to pay back borrowed money from another client’s account both of which Russell permitted.
In the third superseding indictment, Murdaugh once again ensured that Laffitte would be the personal representative of another victim’s estate and received a sizable fee. The indictment states Laffitte used the trust account checks to purchase money orders for Murdaugh or wire the funds to Murdaugh’s accounts.
“Screw them guys,” says the attorney for one family, Justin Bamberg. “Today is a great day for justice in the state of South Carolina. … All chickens come home to roost.”
One of the banker’s lawyers, Bart Daniel, tells The Post and Courier that Russell Laffitte was “fooled by Alex Murdaugh and taken advantage of. He’s been paying the price ever since.”