CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The second week of former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte’s federal trial began with testimony from alleged victims, a forensic accountant, and several bank board/Laffitte family members. Laffitte stands accused of several financial schemes, bank fraud, wire fraud, and more alongside accused murderer Alex Murdaugh.


Hannah Plyler and her sister Alania Plyler-Spohn started Monday morning’s testimony when they were called to the stand by the Federal Government. During an emotional testimony, the sisters recalled the details of the 2005 car accident that left their mother and brother dead after a tire on their Ford Explorer blew up, sending the car off the road into dense trees. Spohn recalled smelling pine and blood, and later seeing two body bags on the left side of the car; that’s when the death of her mom and brother set in.

The Plyler sisters would eventually be represented by Alex Murdaugh, who won them a substantial settlement before setting them up with Russell Laffitte to serve as their Conservator.

Spohn says Laffitte was like a father figure to the girls, who didn’t have much of a relationship with their own father.

For the next several years, the sisters would bounce around from house to house among family members, while Laffitte kept strict tabs on their money. He was frugal and meticulous with how much they were allotted. Meanwhile, Laffitte is accused of being much more relaxed with how he spent the girls’ money.

He allegedly made loans from Hannah Plyler’s conservatorship to himself and Murdaugh over multiple years. A forensic accountant’s testimony later showed many of the loans — twelve to Murdaugh — were extended unsecured, with favorable interest rates, and were never assessed late fees. Laffitte extended even better, but secured loans to himself. The loans from the Plyler’s accounts have since been repaid, but the girls say they are still owed interest on the loans by both Murdaugh and Laffitte.

The testimony of the forensic accountant detailed several checks, transactions, disbursements, and loans made by Laffitte while working at Palmetto State Bank to others including Maggie Murdaugh, Randolph Murdaugh III, and Charles Laffitte as well.

Several Laffitte family members and current Board Members with Palmetto State Bank then took the stand as part of the federal government’s case against Laffitte. Spann Laffitte, Lucius Laffitte, and Becky Laffitte, who are all shareholding members, were called to testify regarding their knowledge of the alleged crimes and the discovery of those crimes.

Each testified they were unaware of the loans extended by Laffitte and were unaware of Laffitte serving as a conservator for some of Murdaugh’s clients. Each testified they were unaware of the $750,000 loan Laffitte granted to Murdaugh in the summer of 2021 despite his account being in overdraft, and unaware of the $680,000 check Laffitte wrote to Murdaugh’s law firm to cover missing settlement money from the Estate of Donna Badger, a client of Murdaugh’s.

All three said they voted to terminate Laffitte as the bank’s CEO in January of 2022 due to a lack of transparency and the alleged actions that had taken place.

Witness testimony will pick back up on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.