Russell Laffitte offers to dismiss federal charges due to ‘government error’
BEAUFORT, SC (WCBD) – A former CEO of Palmetto State Bank and accomplice of disgraced Hampton County attorney Alex Murdaugh is asking that the grand jury charges against him be dropped because of what he has called it a government error.
Russell Laffitte filed a motion on Monday to dismiss a second superseding indictment issued by a grand jury, which he said the government found to contain “errors of fact.”
According to Laffitte, a third replacement indictment correcting a single paragraph was to be issued, but “when the Grand Jury issued its third indictment in this case, more than 16 paragraphs were changed”.
Laffitte argued that the government “exceeded its authority”, saying that “not only are the changes material and impact Mr. Laffitte’s ability to present a defense, but they go beyond the changes made to the single paragraph that the government told the Court that it would amend”.
Some changes included broadening “the scope of the charges against Mr. Laffitte by questioning more transactions in which he was allegedly involved” and increasing “both the number of unsecured loans and the amounts allegedly granted to the unindicted “bank client”.
In three cases, the reference used for Laffitte was changed from “personal representative” to “conservative” or vice versa. According to the motion, “These modifications are more than just nicknames used for ease of reference. They are legal terms. They have different meanings and impose different obligations under the South Carolina probate code.
As a result, Laffitte argued that “the improver evidence provided by the government tainted the Grand Jury”. Similarly, the petition asserted that “if the government holds Mr. Laffitte responsible for knowing the intricacies of South Carolina’s probate code, then the Court should hold the government to the same standard.”
The motion does not seek the dismissal of all charges against Laffitte, but simply the dismissal of the second replacement indictment.
A comparison of the indictments can be found below:
A separate motion filed by Laffitte on Monday asked prosecutors to disclose “any information actually or impliedly in his possession which is favorable to the defendants and material to the question of guilt or sentence or in any way discredits be the case of the government,” according to the Fifth Due Process Clause of the Brady Amendment and Rule.