Criminal Justice

Lawyer accused of staging his own shooting now faces allegations of stealing settlement payout

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Alex Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh. Photo from the Hampton County Detention Center via the Associated Press.

Troubles continue to mount for well-connected South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who faces new charges alleging he stole settlement money intended for the sons of his late housekeeper.

Murdaugh, 53, was arrested at an Orlando, Florida, drug rehab facility and charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, report NPR, the New York Times and NBC News.

Murdaugh was previously charged with insurance fraud for allegedly plotting to have himself killed by a former client so his older son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.

He survived what some reports described as a graze wound to the head; a lawyer for the former client said Murdaugh wasn’t actually shot when the gun went off, Fox News reports. The ex-client says he had tried to stop Murdaugh from shooting himself, causing the gun to discharge.

Murdaugh allegedly staged the shooting a day after his law firm confronted him with allegations that he had misappropriated millions of dollars. The law firm, PMPED, later followed up with a lawsuit.

A court filing in a civil suit by the housekeeper’s sons alleged Murdaugh diverted more than $3.5 million in the settlement money to himself by depositing checks made out to “Forge,” a company with a name similar to structured settlement company Forge Consulting.

The housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died in February 2018 at Murdaugh’s home in Islandton, South Carolina. Murdaugh said the woman had tripped over his dogs and fallen down the stairs.

Murdaugh allegedly offered to get legal representation for Satterfield’s sons without disclosing the lawyer he recommended was a friend.

The other lawyer, Cory Fleming, obtained a wrongful-death settlement, but the sons say they never received any money. After being sued by the sons, Fleming agreed to pay back all fees and expenses his law firm received in the case. In addition, the law firm’s malpractice insurance carrier agreed to pay the housekeeper’s estate the full policy limits of the insurance, according to a prior statement by the son’s lawyers.

Fleming has said he was unaware that the sons never received the money. Law licenses for both Fleming and Murdaugh have been suspended.

Satterfield’s death is now under investigation.

Also under investigation are the June 7 shooting deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and younger son. Murdaugh’s lawyer has said Murdaugh is a person of interest in the investigation, but he didn’t commit the crime.

See also:

The New York Times: “Unsolved Murdaugh murders expose years of South Carolina mysteries”

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