By Dianne Gallagher, CNN
(CNN) — Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, who has been convicted of murdering his wife and son, has agreed to plead guilty to nearly two dozen federal charges alleging he stole millions of dollars from clients, according to a plea agreement signed Monday and filed in South Carolina US District Court.
In the agreement – which must still be approved by a federal judge – Murdaugh accepts guilty pleas to 22 federal charges, including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
The charges carry a maximum punishment of 20 years in federal prison, with some carrying a maximum of 30 years.
The plea is related to an alleged scheme carried out by Murdaugh with the assistance of a bank employee in which the now-disbarred lawyer is accused of defrauding his personal injury clients and laundering more than $7 million of funds, according to an indictment.
Murdaugh is accused in the indictment of using the settlement funds for his “personal benefit, including using the proceeds to pay off personal loans and for personal expenses and cash withdrawals.”
After being convicted of murdering his wife and son at his South Carolina Lowcountry estate, Murdaugh has already been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the disbarred attorney remains entangled in several other state and federal cases in which he faces more than 100 other charges.
If Murdaugh complies with the conditions of the Monday plea bargain, federal attorneys have agreed to recommend in court that Murdaugh serve any prison sentence on the federal charges concurrent to any state sentence he receives for the same alleged crimes, according to the document.
Separately, Murdaugh is also set to stand trial in November on charges related to stolen settlement funds from the family of the Murdaughs’ late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. They are the first of dozens of state charges he faces in alleged schemes to defraud victims of millions. The financial crimes he is accused of in the case include embezzlement, computer crime, money laundering and tax evasion.
The South Carolina attorney general has also asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate claims of jury tampering during Murdaugh’s murder trial this year after Murdaugh’s defense team filed a court motion in September demanding a new trial and alleging a clerk of court tampered with the jury.
Last week, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked the court to order Murdaugh’s defense team to correct their motion due to several “procedural defects.” The prosecutor’s office didn’t directly dispute the motion but noted the ongoing investigation has already “revealed significant factual disputes” that undermine the credibility of Murdaugh’s claims.
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