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The defense team for former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte began presenting its case in federal court Wednesday morning. The federal government has been trying to prove that Laffitte helped former attorney Alex Murdaugh steal millions of dollars from clients.
Laffitte's lawyers argue that he was not an employee of Palmetto State and instead was an independent contractor. They say he agreed to become an independent contractor when he purchased his tractor and signed an equipment lease contract with Palmetto State.
They also say that he was not an employee because his employer did not control or direct his work activities or pay him a regular salary. They argue that he was an independent contractor because his tractor was equipped with the Palmetto State insignia and Department of Transportation motor carrier number, both of which are required under state law for independent contractors to display.
The defense is expected to wrap up its arguments later this week. Then the government will rest its case and the jury will begin deliberating. The trial is scheduled to last for about a month. During this time, a jury will hear testimony from more than 30 witnesses and examine dozens of exhibits. The jury will then make a decision on whether Laffitte is guilty of wire fraud, money laundering and other charges related to the Murdaugh case.