CFO of Alex Murdaugh’s law firm testifies she confronted him about missing funds the morning his wife and son were killed
The double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh continued Thursday with testimony about the disgraced attorney’s alleged financial crimes, which prosecutors have suggested were about to be revealed when Murdaugh allegedly killed his wife and son in an effort to distract from those schemes.
The testimony of Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer of Murdaugh’s law firm, was heard Thursday morning without the jury present as Judge Clifton Newman weighs whether to allow the state to present the evidence of the alleged financial crimes, for which Murdaugh faces 99 separate charges from the murder case.
The morning of June 7, 2021 – the same day of the murders – Seckinger confronted Murdaugh about $792,000 in missing funds, she said Thursday, testing that legal fees should have been made payable to the law firm, then known as PMPED, and not to individual attorneys.
But Seckinger and other members of the firm realized in May 2021 they had not received a fee check stemming from a settlement signed in a case Murdaugh shared with another attorney, Chris Wilson, Seckinger testified, which was a concern.
“Either he’s got a check he hasn’t turned into us that is properly payable to PMPED or he’s received a check payable to him,” Seckinger said.
Seckinger testified she confronted Murdaugh on June 7 and told him she had reason to believe he had received the funds himself and that he needed to prove to her he had not.
“He assured me that the money was there, and that he could get it,” Seckinger said.
Prosecutors indicated in pretrial filings they believed Murdaugh killed his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and his 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh to distract attention from various illicit schemes he was running and which the state contends were about to come to light when they were killed.
“Ultimately,” prosecutors wrote in a motion, “the murders served as Murdaugh’s means to shift the focus away from himself and buy himself some additional time to try and prevent his financial crimes from being uncovered, which, if revealed, would have resulted in personal legal and financial ruin for Murdaugh.”
At the time, Murdaugh was facing a lawsuit from the family of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed in February 2019 when a boat, owned by Murdaugh and allegedly driven by Paul, struck a bridge piling.
Murdaugh’s financial records – which state court filings said “would expose (Murdaugh) for his years of alleged misdeeds” – could have been disclosed following a hearing in the civil case scheduled for June 10, 2021, three days after the killings.
Prosecutors’ motion contends the missing $792,000 had already been spent. But the hearing was canceled after Maggie and Paul’s deaths, Seckinger said Thursday, and the firm opted not to confront Murdaugh about the missing money.
“Alex was disturbed and upset and not in the office much” after the killings, Seckinger said. “And nobody wanted to harass him about nothing that we thought was really missing, when we had several months till the end of the year to clear it up. So we were not going to harass him at that point in time.”