A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh on 22 counts of fraud stemming in part from an alleged scheme to steal some $4 million in insurance settlement funds from his housekeeper’s family.
The disgraced South Carolina lawyer now faces more than 100 alleged financial crimes, which began in 2005, stemming from various indictments.
“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said in a Wednesday statement. “South Carolinians turn to lawyers when they are at their most vulnerable, and in our state, those who abuse the public’s trust and enrich themselves by fraud, theft, and self-dealing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday also accused Murdaugh’s longtime friend, Cory Fleming, of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the apparent theft of nearly $4 million in insurance fees.
Fleming, a suspended lawyer and Murdaugh’s college roommate, on Wednesday agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in South Carolina District Court.
The charging document filed Monday alleges that Fleming worked with Murdaugh to deposit forged settlement checks into a fraudulent Bank of America account named “Forge,” apparently after Forge Consulting, LLC, an insurance advisory company.
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Murdaugh and Fleming allegedly stole $3.8 million from Nautilus Insurance Company and $500,000 from Lloyd’s of London that should have gone to the family of Murdaugh’s deceased housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
Satterfield died after a fall at Murdaugh’s home in 2018, and he was accused of stealing an insurance settlement that was intended for her children.
Satterfield’s son, Tony Satterfield, testified during Murdaugh’s murder trial that his family never received a penny from the $4 million settlement funds. The Satterfield family has a $4.3 million judgment against Murdaugh, which he voluntarily signed.
“At Richard Alexander Murdaugh’s direction, [Fleming] issued checks made payable to ‘Forge’ totaling $3,483,431.95. Richard Alexander Murdaugh deposited the funds into his ‘fake Forge’ account, knowing that the funds belonged to the Estate of G.S., and thereafter used the funds for his personal enrichment,” the complaint states.
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“The Estate of G.S. did not receive any of the settlement funds,” federal prosecutors wrote.
Satterfield apparently tripped and fell on the front steps at the Murdaughs’ home on their South Carolina hunting estate, Moselle. Satterfield died days later in a hospital, and an autopsy was never conducted. Her death certificate said she died of natural causes, which her family and Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper later disputed because her injuries were inconsistent with that conclusion.
“Today has been a great day for justice in South Carolina related to the ongoing criminal investigations into Alex Murdaugh and Cory Fleming,” Satterfield family attorneys Eric Bland and Ronald Richter said in a statement, adding that Fleming “has agreed to provide cooperation to the federal authorities, and Dick Harpootlian has indicated that Alex Murdaugh has been cooperating with the United States investigation for some time.”
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“While it is said that Lady Justice is blind, she is not a sucker. Bottom Line — Can’t run or hide from justice,” Bland and Richter said.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has opened an investigation into Satterfield’s death.
Murdaugh has been accused of stealing millions from his former personal injury law firm, The Parker Law Group, formerly known as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick.
The Parker Law Group is still in the process of repaying all the clients Murdaugh stole from, as Parker Law Group CFO Jeanne Seckinger testified during the disgraced lawyer’s murder trial in February.
Murdaugh was found guilty in the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, at his family’s estate in Islandton.
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Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters repeatedly asked Seckinger why the firm had to pay back each client.
“Because Alex Murdaugh stole it,” Seckinger said of forged checks presented as evidence in a Colleton County courtroom. She also identified Murdaugh’s handwriting on the checks.
On June 7, 2021, she confronted Murdaugh and told him she had reason to believe he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in missing fees directly, and he needed to prove he had not.
Murdaugh in turn said the money was in a trust, and the check for the missing funds had not been cut to the firm yet.
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The former lawyer abruptly received a call at that same time saying his father was back in the hospital, and his condition was terminal, ending his conversation with Seckinger.
Prosecutors alleged during his murder trial that Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an effort to veer attention away from his alleged financial crimes.
“We are grateful to the FBI for their tireless work on this case and to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for their work to hold Alex Murdaugh, and those who enabled him, accountable in our state system. We remain committed to doing our part to further that effort in the federal system,” Boroughs said Wednesday.
Fox News’ Rebecca Rosenberg contributed to this report.
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