South Carolina legal dynasty’s woes deepen as Alex Murdaugh is arrested on release from Florida rehab, for stealing $4.3M settlement, insurers paid estate of his housekeeper who died in 2018 ‘mystery trip and fall’ at his home
Disgraced South Carolina legal dynasty scion, Alex Murdaugh, was again arrested Thursday morning as he left rehab in Orlando, Florida where he received treatment for a ’20-year opioid addiction’
Murdaugh, 53, faces two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses over the misappropriation of settlement funds in the death of Gloria Satterfield
His 57-year-old housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died in February 2018 allegedly, after tripping over the family dog on the stairs
Her estate filed a lawsuit alleging that they haven’t received any part of a $4.3 million settlement paid by the Murdaugh family’s insurers
In court docs it was claimed that Murdaugh syphoned $3.5 million to a shell company called Forge – which was really a PO Box in Hampton, South Carolina
The embezzlement was executed with the connivance of attorney Cory Fleming, his college roommate and close friend who he had recommended to Satterfield’s sons without full disclosure
Currently facing criminal charges for stealing millions from his law firm PMPED, Murdaugh is also person of interest in his wife and son’s double-homicide on his property
Last month he was charged over a botched suicide-by-hitman scheme, designed to yield $10million for his surviving son Buster
Already facing a slew of felonies, Alex Murdaugh, 53, was been arrested Thursday on his release from rehab in Florida for allegedly syphoning off a $4.3 million settlement meant for the sons of his housekeeper, who died in a mysterious ‘trip and fall’ at his home in 2018.
Murdaugh, who was charged last month over a botched suicide-by-hitman scheme.
Already a person of interest in the double-slaying of his wife and son’s, Murdaugh was taken into custody Thursday morning in Orlando by agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The once prominent attorney whose license to practice the law is suspended, had been in the city to receive treatment for an opioid addiction after being bailed on the hitman charges on September 17 at an unnamed rehab facility.
Murdaugh, who is the heir to a powerful South Carolina legal dynasty, now faces two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses over the misappropriation of settlement funds in the death of Gloria Satterfield.
He is being held in Orange County Correctional Facility near Orlando, ahead of his extradition back to South Carolina. Murdaugh’s lawyers say they expect him to appear before a bond hearing in Beaufort County, South Carolina, on Friday over the latest charges. He intends ‘to fully cooperate with this investigation, as he has with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son’ his team said.
‘He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted from the efforts to solve their murders.
Gloria Satterfield’s family said they haven’t received any part of the $4.3 million wrongful death settlement agreement. Instead, civil court documents filed by Satterfield’s sons last week claimed Murdaugh syphoned off $3.5 million of the insurance payout to his own shell company called Forge – which was actually a PO Box in Hampton, South Carolina. The remainder of the $4.3 million settlement is said to have been spent on legal fees.
Murdaugh has also been accused of stealing millions from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) to help fund a 20-year opioid addiction that has left him in financial ruin.
He had checked himself into a drug rehab facility in Orlando, Florida, for the last month after posting bond on charges that he paid one time client and distant cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, to shoot him in the head and kill him for a multi-million-dollar insurance windfall for his surviving son Richard.
Satterfield’s two sons Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott celebrated the news of Murdaugh’s arrest Thursday, saying: ‘The bottom line is no one is above the law.’
Their lawyer Eric Bland told Fox News: ‘Today is a bittersweet day for the Satterfield and Harriott Families.
‘Avarice and betrayal of trust are at the heart of this matter. Lawsuits and claims are not vehicles for lawyers, defendants and/or friends to enrich themselves at the expense of their clients. These belong to the clients and the clients only.
‘This is the sacred trust that lawyers and fiduciaries owe their clients. 100% fidelity and never putting their interests over the clients.”
The statement continued: ‘Since early September the families are dealing with the betrayal of trust and that their loved one’s death was used as a vehicle to enrich others over the clients.
‘Nonetheless, the families and lawyers would like to thank the public for the continued support and assistance it has given to solve these ugly crimes. It is not over. A very good start to holding everyone accountable who either participated knowingly or breached their duties. The bottom line is no one is above the law.’
SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement that the legal scion’s arrest marks the first step in bringing justice for all those who have been ‘victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others.’
‘Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations,’ said Keel.
‘I want to commend the hard work and dedication that our agents have shown over the last four months.
‘They will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others.
‘As I have said previously, we are committed to following the facts wherever they may lead us and we will not stop until justice is served.’
Alex Murdaugh’s arrest comes almost exactly four months to the day that his 22-year-old son Paul and wife Maggie were found shot dead at the family hunting lodge in South Carolina.
At the time Paul, the younger of his two sons was awaiting trial for the 2019 death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed as a passenger in a boat he crashed while allegedly drunk driving.
No arrests have ever been made and no suspects or persons of interest named over their murders.
Murdaugh’s attorney finally admitted Wednesday that he is a person of interest in his loved ones’ slayings.
Since their murders, the SLED has launched multiple other investigations tied to Murdaugh and his family, including an investigation launched last month into bizarre allegation that Murdaugh who was shot in the head by the side of a road in Hampton County was actually the architect of the murder attempt.
Murdaugh was arrested and charged over the incident days later after he confessed to cops that he paid an accomplice to shoot and kill him so that his surviving son Buster could receive a $10 million life insurance payout.
This came after SLED also reopened the investigation into the 2015 death of gay teen Stephen Smith.
The teen’s death was ruled a hit-and-run, though no suspects have ever been named or charged and there was no evidence he was struck by a vehicle.
Stephen was a classmate of Murdaugh’s son Buster and there were rumors reported at the time that the pair were romantically linked
Last month, authorities also opened an investigation into Satterfield’s death.
Satterfield, 57, had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she died following a ‘trip and fall’ inside the Murdaugh family home back in February 2018.
The housekeeper was found by Murdaugh’s wife Maggie on the front steps of the family home bleeding and the family said she had tripped over their dogs. She died weeks later.
The death of the 57-year-old mother-of–two was not reported to the coroner at the time and no autopsy was carried out.
The death certificate cites the manner of death as ‘natural’ – something that is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fail accident.
This does not match the information documented in the wrongful death suit which said she died as a ‘result of injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident, in Hampton County’.
Murdaugh allegedly then defrauded the Satterfield family out of a $4.3 million wrongful death settlement. The deceased woman’s two sons in their lawsuit claimed that they said they had not received any part thereof.
Last week, new legal documents claimed filed as part of a civil suit by Satterfield’s sons claim Murdaugh set up a fake firm called Forge to syphon off $3.5 million of the settlement money when it was paid out by his insurance firms.
A motion, filed October 5 by Satterfield’s sons Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, said the payouts circumvented them and was redirected instead, to what was essentially a PO Box in Hampton.
Two other defendants were named in the civil suit – Murdaugh’s old college roommate Cory Fleming, who acted as a lawyer on behalf of Satterfield’s families, and Chad Westendorf, Vice President of Palmetto State Bank who took over the sons as personal representative of their mom’s estate at Murdaugh’s apparent encouragement.
Court documents last week claimed Murdaugh syphoned off $3.5 million of the $4.3 million insurance payout of Satterfield’s family to his own shell company called Forge.
It also claims Murdaugh’s close friend lawyer Corey Fleming and banker with Palmetto State Bank Chad Westendorf were involved in the scheme
On January 7, 2019, alleged co-conspirator Corey Fleming allegedly received a $505,000 check from Lloyd’s Underwriters – one of the insurance firms Murdaugh’s insurers.
This payout was supposed to be part of the Satterfield settlement. instead, that same day, Fleming allegedly wrote a check for $403,500 to Murdaugh’s shell account, Forge. In the end satterfield’s estate received zero percent of any and all of the two tranches of settlement payout, amounting to $4.3 million.
Fleming had his law license suspended Friday but has insisted he was also a victim of Murdaugh’s deceit.
He reached an undisclosed settlement with Satterfield’s family earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Westendorf returned his Personal Representation fee of $30,000 to the Satterfield estate Tuesday.
The new motion provided details of how two large payouts from two separate insurers were allegedly redirected to Murdaugh and called for the disgraced attorney and his alleged co-conspirators to be held in contempt of court for violating the orders approving the settlement.
Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf are accused of negotiating $4.3 million in payouts from Lloyd’s Underwriters and Nautilus Insurance Company – two insurance companies with which Murdaugh held policies.
They then allegedly sent more than $3.5 million of the funds to Murdaugh’s shell company Forge.
Satterfield’s sons were allegedly kept in the dark about both the settlements and court meetings, were not invited to any mediations and received zero payments.
After the initial half million check from Lloyd’s, in March 2019, the Satterfield’s attorney, Cory Fleming, had secured an additional settlement from Nautilus Insurance Company to the tune of $3.8 million.
The check was made payable to Westendorf as the estate representative and Fleming’s law firm on April 18.
After deducting legal fees and expenses, Satterfield’s estate was entitled to $2.765 million in a settlement which was approved by Judge Mullen on May 13. In similar fashion, their attorney Cory instead sent a check for $2.96 million to Murdaugh’s shell company, Forge, that day.
On October 5 2020, Fleming and Murdaugh filed for a dismissal of the settlement which Mullen approved – on the basis that an agreement had been reached by all parties.
The next day being October 6, Fleming wrote a check to Forge for $168,000
According to the 69-page motion, Westendorf was appointed as the new personal representative of Satterfield’s estate on December 18 2018 – replacing her son Tony.
The very next day, Fleming filed a petition to get court permission to access a partial settlement in the wrongful death suit for $505,000 while reserving the right to pursue ‘additional insurance coverage that is applicable to this matter.’
Satterfield’s sons believe this settlement was agreed prior to the change in hands between Tony and Westendorf.
A check for this settlement was dated for December 4 2018 – two weeks prior to Westendorf’s appointment.
This partial settlement was approved by Judge Carmen Mullen but, the sons claim, they were never told anything about it.
On January 7, 2019, Fleming then allegedly received a $505,000 check from Lloyd’s Underwriters.
That same day, Fleming allegedly wrote a check for $403,500 to Murdaugh’s shell account Forge.
According to the suit, a company in Atlanta, Georgia, shares this name but in fact this check was sent to a PO Box address in Hampton at Murdaugh’s request.
In March 2019, Fleming then secured an additional settlement from Nautilus Insurance Company to the tune of $3.8 million – which Satterfield’s sons again claim they had no knowledge of.
Westendorf signed a conditional release which stipulated the funds would be paid directly to him in April 2019. Documents included in the motion reveal the check was made payable to Westendorf as the estate representative and Fleming’s law firm on April 18.
In total, the two insurance companies had paid out $4.305 million.
Minus legal fees and expenses, Satterfield’s family were entitled to $2.765 million in a settlement which was approved by Judge Mullen on May 13.
However, a check submitted with the motion reveals Fleming sent a check for $2.96 million to Forge that very same day.
Then, on October 5 2020, Fleming and Murdaugh filed for a dismissal of the settlement which Mullen approved – on the basis that an agreement had been reached by all parties.
The next day – October 6 – Fleming wrote a check to Forge for $168,000.
Fleming also paid himself $666,000 in legal fees.
He was awarded $1.435 million in fees – $168,333 in the Lloyd’s payout and $1.27 million in the Nautilus deal – but allegedly paid the remainder to Murdaugh.
Westendorf did not appear to pay himself for his involvement. Rather, he ‘allowed all of the settlement proceeds to be misapplied by Fleming and Murdaugh.’
the settlement statement signed by Westendorf also lists prosecution expenses of $105,000 deducted from the $4.3 million total package but it is not clear where this money went.
The motion does not suggest Mullen was involved in the scheme and instead says she too was ‘misled’ after Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirators ‘lied to the court’.
At the same time, millions of dollars was also allegedly going missing from Murdaugh’s law firm PMPED, according to a separate lawsuit filed against Murdaugh by his ex-partners.
No charges have yet been brought over this allegation but Murdaugh resigned from the firm at the request of the partners.
The charges against the man who is heir to a powerful legal dynasty which has dominated South Carolina for the best part of a century are now racking up.
Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false report over the botched hitman plot last month.
His alleged co-conspirator Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was also charged over the incident and released on bond.
Smith has claimed he was not in on the plot and was trying to wrestle the gun from Murdaugh when it went off.
From the Roll call of Murdaugh family Deaths, Addictions, Thefts and Arrests come the skeletons now biting hard on the family
First is the troubling case of Teenager Stephen Smith who died in 2015
Stephen Smith,19, was found dead on the side of the road close to the family’s property. The mystery of a how his death was ruled a hit-and-run without any supporting evidence has not been resolved.
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run, but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay.
Case notes show that the Murdaugh’s older son Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said the pair had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ up other killings. The whistle blower mentioned Smith’s death.
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died in a home ‘accident’ in Feb 2018
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house The family gave her family $505,000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
Mallory Beach killed in a boat mishap – thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh, in 2019
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond when he was murdered.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her.
On June 7, 2021 Paul Murdaugh and his mother Margaret ‘Maggie’ Murdaugh were shot dead on the family property – Bodies were discovered by Alex Murdaugh
The 52-year-old matriarch and her 22-year-old younger son were found shot dead near the dog kennels at the family hunting lodge in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh told the 911 operator that he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
On June 10, 2021, Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III, 81, dies of ‘naturally causes’ at home
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
On September 3, Alex Murdaugh resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother.
On September 6, he released a statement confirming his resignation from the PMPED, also announcing he’d entered rehab:
‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
On September 16, Alex Murdaugh turned himself into police over the insurance fraud scheme
Murdaugh handed himself over to cops in connection to insurance fraud scheme where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
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