OAN’s Brooke Mallory
3:19 PM – Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Alex Murdaugh, the convicted murderer and former personal injury attorney, was accused by a federal grand jury on 22 additional financial fraud-related crimes, including defrauding his late housekeeper’s estate and insurance companies of millions of dollars, according to authorities on Wednesday.
The longtime housekeeper of the Murdaughs, Gloria Satterfield, passed away in 2018 after what was allegedly a “trip and fall accident” at the family home, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina. It was alleged that Murdaugh, 54, conspired with another personal injury attorney, Cory Fleming, to steal settlement money.
While Satterfield’s estate did not get any of the settlement money, Murdaugh was accused of ordering Fleming to issue checks totaling nearly $3.5 million to a bank account that he utilized for his own personal profit, according to the prosecution.
According to federal prosecutors, Fleming, 54, is scheduled to enter a plea on Thursday to a charge of conspiring to conduct wire fraud in connection with the Satterfield case.
“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers,” U.S. Attorney Adair Boroughs said in a 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.”
This month, Murdaugh’s attorneys admitted that he “invented the critical facts” surrounding Satterfield’s initial trip and fall “accident” in order to earn millions of dollars in the settlement, according to a complaint accusing him of life insurance fraud in the death of the 57-year-old woman.
The Nautilus Insurance Co. filed a lawsuit claiming that the company had been defrauded.
“No dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018,” Murdaugh’s attorneys said in the legal filing. After her death, Murdaugh “invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported statement that dogs caused her to fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment.”
According to Eric Bland, the legal representative for Satterfield’s children, Murdaugh never informed the family of the settlement funds. The disgraced ex-attorney initially asserted that Satterfield passed away after falling, but he now says he cannot recall all the details.
The recent revelations represent “a great day for justice in South Carolina,” said a tweet from Bland on Wednesday.
“While it is said that Lady Justice is blind, she is not a sucker. Bottom Line — Can’t run or hide from justice,” Bland wrote.
Murdaugh is cooperating with the FBI investigation, according to his attorneys Jim Griffin and Richard “Dick” Harpootlian, who said on Wednesday that they “anticipate that the charges brought today will be quickly resolved without a trial.”
In a case that garnered national attention and tarnished the impeccable reputation of the well-connected legal family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Murdaugh was found guilty in March and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murders of his wife Margaret and younger son Paul in June 2021.
In order to persuade the jury that Murdaugh was guilty, the prosecution developed a comprehensive case based on circumstantial evidence. They did this by using technological data and footage taken from the victims’ cellphones to show that only he had the motivation, access, and opportunity to kill his wife and son in the manner that it happened.
Murdaugh is also charged in the most recent federal indictments with misusing settlement money from other clients from at least 2005 to 2021 “to personally enrich himself,” and collaborating with a banker to use settlement money to pay off personal loans, cover personal expenses, and withdraw cash. Money laundering as well as bank and wire fraud are among the new accusations.
Prosecutors said that throughout Murdaugh’s double murder trial, he had been defrauding clients for years and had used the proceeds in part to support an opiate addiction.
More than 100 counts of financial crimes against Murdaugh, including insurance fraud and the theft of client funds from his family’s legal practice, are still pending trial. Additionally, his lawyers have submitted a notice of appeal for his murder convictions.
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