CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Witnesses appeared on day three of the trial of a former Lowcountry bank CEO on Thursday to testify about allegations that he was involved in a fraudulent conspiracy.
Russell Laffitte, the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and misuse of bank funds after he was accused of aiding former Lowcountry attorney Murdaugh and suspended attorney Cory Fleming to embezzle nearly $2 million from clients.
The bank’s current CEO, Jan Malinowski, began on the witness stand on Thursday. Federal prosecutor Emily Limehouse showed the jury several emails between Laffitte and the bank’s board during her cross-examination.
An email between Laffitte and the board dated October 29, 2021, set up an emergency board meeting for the 31st after the PSB became suspicious of Murdaugh’s loans, calling for an investigation into the questions.
“The board thought it was important to investigate what happened,” Malinowski said.
During prosecution cross-examination, evidence was presented to show Russell’s signatures were all over the July 2021 $750,000 loans to Murdaugh while he had a $300,000 overdraft on his account with PSB.
Defense attorney Bart Daniel asked Malinowski, “Do you think Murdaugh got any special treatment at the PSB?
Malinowski said yes in response. He also said that prior to the death of Murdaugh’s wife in June 2021, the board had never had a problem with his loans.
Limehouse continued cross-examining Malinowski after a lunch break, presenting the history of Murdaugh’s loan statement when he was charged with late fees. Malinowski agreed the documents showed Murdaugh failed to repay his loans on time.
Malinowski was excused from the witness stand around 2 p.m. and prosecutors called as their next witness Ronnie Crosby, a legal partner at Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick and Murdaugh’s colleague of 20 years, as their next witness.
When Limehouse asked Crosby about Laffitte and Murdaugh’s relationship, he said they were mutual acquaintances and friends.
“I think they were friends but not very close. They grew up close to each other and knew each other their whole lives,” Crosby said.
Crosby said the company learned Murdaugh was stealing money in September 2021 and fired him on September 3 before launching a lengthy investigation into his actions.
“He was dishonest with us and the banker [Laffitte] was also not truthful,” he said.
Limehouse said after Crosby completes his testimony, they plan to call another PMPED lawyer as well as Alania Spohn and Hannah Plyler, who have filed suit against Laffitte and the bank alleging Laffitte used the money. which was due to them after their mother and their 14-year-old child. brother died in a car accident in 2005 for love loans to himself and Murdaugh.
PMPED has since rebranded itself as Parker Law Group after parting ways with Murdaugh.
The trial will not continue on Friday due to Veterans Day. It will meet again on Monday.
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