The state Supreme Court’s disciplinary arm is investigating a connection between suspended Hampton attorney Alex Murdaugh and the former owner of Murdaugh’s sprawling hunting property, according to legal documents obtained by The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.
The S.C. Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, as part of its probe into Murdaugh’s financial misconduct as a lawyer, named the estate of Barrett Thomas Boulware, the former owner, and others in a subpoena sent to the Allendale County Probate Court in late November.
The subpoena, obtained by the newspapers, sought records from the estate files of Boulware and his mother, Ann Owens Boulware. It also asked for all cases involving former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte, who was fired last week, and a specific case that involved Murdaugh and Laffitte.
The request by the state agency, which investigates alleged lawyer misconduct in secret, appears to be related to the numerous investigations into allegations that Murdaugh stole millions from his clients and his former law firm.
It’s unclear, however, why the disciplinary arm subpoenaed Boulware’s records — whether it’s to scrutinize how Murdaugh became owner of his 1,770-acre hunting property, Moselle; to investigate financial crimes Murdaugh may have committed against Boulware; or for another reason.
One of Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, reached by phone Friday, said he had not seen the subpoena and declined to comment.
Barrett Boulware, described in his 2018 obituary as a commercial fisherman who operated out of Beaufort, owned the Moselle property — which has its own dedicated location on Facebook — until he transferred it to his wife in 2009.
Murdaugh acquired the land from Boulware’s wife, Jeannine Boulware, between 2013 and 2014. In a move similar to Barrett Boulware’s, Murdaugh transferred the property to his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, two years later.
Records show that Boulware granted Murdaugh power of attorney — the ability to handle all of his legal affairs — two months before he died in 2018.
The Moselle property, its numerous ownership transfers and Murdaugh’s relationship with Barrett Boulware have been the subject of speculation and intrigue by the public and social media sleuths in the months since June 7. That’s when Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh, Murdaugh’s wife and younger son, were found shot to death on the property.
Their murders remain unsolved.
Newspaper clippings from the 1980s show that Boulware and his father, also named Barrett Boulware, faced drug smuggling charges after authorities seized about 15 tons of marijuana aboard a shrimp boat near the Bahamas.
Those charges were dropped, however, “after a key government witness was killed when he stepped in front of a car in Florida,” according to a 1983 article in The State newspaper.
Murdaugh’s connection to Boulware appears to be yet another tentacle of the wide-ranging investigations into Murdaugh’s alleged wrongdoing.
The once-prominent attorney, whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather held the position of elected 14th Judicial Circuit prosecutor for more than 80 years, has seen a dizzying fall from grace since the murders of his wife and son.
Murdaugh sits in a Richland County jail, charged with stealing $6.2 million from 13 different clients.
His former law firm, founded by his great-grandfather more than a century ago, fired Murdaugh last fall and sued him for stealing. The firm recently rebranded to remove the Murdaugh name.
More indictments against Murdaugh are expected, but it not known what else he may be charged with.