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South Carolina suspends lawyer Alex Murdaugh's law license as investigation widens

The state's highest court ruled after Murdaugh's law firm said that he had misappropriated funds and that it was reporting him to law enforcement and the state bar.
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South Carolina's highest court agreed Wednesday to indefinitely suspend the law license of Alex Murdaugh, the latest blow to a prominent attorney whose actions have come under scrutiny after he survived a roadside shooting and abruptly resigned from his law firm last week over allegations of misconduct.

The South Carolina Supreme Court's order says Murdaugh did not oppose the suspension.

Murdaugh, 53, had announced Monday that he was entering rehab in the wake of the fatal shootings of his wife, Margaret, and son, Paul, in June — a double homicide that remains unsolved and has attracted national attention.

From left, Paul, Margaret and Alex Murdaugh.
From left, Paul, Margaret and Alex Murdaugh.via Facebook

But he failed to mention that his law firm — Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, which was founded by his great-grandfather — had opened an investigation into "misappropriated funds."

"This is disappointing news for all of us," the law firm said in a statement later Monday. "Rest assured that our firm will deal with this in a straightforward manner. There's no place in our firm for such behavior."

The firm added that a forensic accounting firm will conduct an internal investigation and that it had notified law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar. It's unclear how much money Murdaugh is accused of taking and how it was used, and the law firm declined further comment.

In a statement Wednesday, Murdaugh's brother, Randolph Murdaugh IV, who is also a lawyer and partner at the family-founded law firm, said he was "shocked" along with his colleagues to learn of his brother's drug addiction and the accusations of stolen money.

"I love my law firm family and also love Alex as my brother. While I will support him in his recovery, I do not support, condone, or excuse his conduct in stealing by manipulating his most trusted relationships," Randolph Murdaugh IV said.

The Murdaugh brothers' father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather all held the top prosecutor's position in South Carolina's 14th Circuit, which covers a swampy coastal region of the state known as the Lowcountry, and wielded power in the same role for more than eight decades. Alex Murdaugh was a part-time prosecutor in the office while also working for his great-grandfather's private law firm.

Officials in the state's 14th Circuit said Tuesday that Murdaugh was "no longer authorized to prosecute on behalf" of the office following the accusation by his law firm. The last case he prosecuted for the agency was in October 2019.

Margaret and Paul Murdaugh's bodies were found by Murdaugh on June 7 near dog kennels on the family's hunting property in Colleton County, west of Charleston. They had been shot to death.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has released few details, saying it does not want to compromise its investigation. The agency did not respond to a request for comment about the allegation lodged by Murdaugh's former law firm.