Alex Murdaugh, the beleaguered South Carolina lawyer at the center of several investigations following the deaths of his wife and son in June, is due in court Tuesday on charges of mismanagement of funds in connection with ‘a trial for wrongful death of a former cleaning lady.
Murdaugh faces a bail hearing at a South Carolina courthouse after his arrest last week in Orlando after being released from a drug rehab center.
The lawyer faces two counts of obtaining property under false pretenses in connection with a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the sons of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
Satterfield died after falling into Murdaugh’s home in February 2018, which state police said they were also investigating. Satterfield’s death was ruled on “natural” causes at the time, but the Hampton County Coroner recently wrote a letter to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division urging him to open an investigation because his death had not been reported at the time and an autopsy had not been performed.
Money, murder, mystery:Another twist occurs in the case of former South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh
According to the affidavits of arrest, Murdaugh then coordinated with Satterfield’s family to take him to court to seek insurance benefits after the woman’s death.
Murdaugh asked the Satterfield family to hire attorney Cory Fleming to represent them, according to the documents. Fleming, a close friend of Murdaugh’s, came to a settlement, but Satterfield’s family were never told or received any proceeds, according to the affidavits.
Instead, Fleming wrote two checks – one for almost $ 3 million and the other for over $ 400,000 – to “Forge,” a company that handles insurance settlements but with which neither the family. Neither Satterfield nor Murdaugh are affiliated, according to the affidavits.
Meanwhile, Murdaugh had opened a bank account called “Forge” and had Fleming write the checks so he could use the funds for himself, according to police records.
Satterfield’s sons, Michael “Tony” Satterfield and Brian Harriott, are also suing Murdaugh over wrongful death settlement funds. The brothers said they were never paid “a dime,” according to court documents filed earlier this month.
Each charge of obtaining property under false pretenses could result in up to 10 years in prison for Murdaugh. His lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, said last week that Murdaugh had accepted that he would likely spend some time in jail because of the various charges he was facing.
Murdaugh at the center of other investigations
A member of a prominent legal family in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Murdaugh has gained international attention as a growing number of cases and state criminal investigations surround the attorney.
In September, Murdaugh was shot dead at the side of a rural road in Hampton County in what state police later said was an alleged plot to stage his own murder so that his insurance policy- life of $ 10 million be paid to his surviving son.
Murdaugh transformed on September 16 and appeared in court briefly before posting bail and returning to his drug rehab program.
Murdaugh faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, resulting from the roadside incident. His former client, Curtis Edward Smith, has also been charged with several crimes, including assisted suicide and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Learn more about Murdaugh’s second arrest:Alex Murdaugh faces felony charges in housekeeper death settlement fund case
South Carolina’s law enforcement division previously said Murdaugh met with Smith on September 4 to have Smith kill him. Harpootlian had said Murdaugh believed his $ 10 million life insurance policy would not have been paid to his son, Buster, had he committed suicide.
Smith, however, in an interview with The New York Times, denied any involvement in the insurance fraud scheme.
The day before the shooting, Murdaugh resigned from the law firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick PA, established by his great-grandfather over 100 years ago. The company said Murdaugh embezzled funds, which state police are also investigating. The company has also since sued Murdaugh to recover the funds.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh was suffering from an opioid addiction and mourning the deaths of his son and wife, Paul and Maggie, whose homicides remain unsolved. Both mother and son were shot dead at the family’s hunting grounds in June, where Murdaugh found them dead. His lawyers have denied that he was involved in their deaths.
During the inquest into the deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, state police also said they were opening an investigation into the death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, who died in 2015.
Smith was killed in what South Carolina Highway Patrol investigators initially deemed a hit and run, but South Carolina’s law enforcement division said in late June it was opening its own investigation “into the basis of information gathered during the investigation into the double murder of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. “
Smith’s mother Sandy told the Hampton County Guardian, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2015 that she believed her son’s death was the result of a criminal act and possible hate crime because his son was gay.
And finally, Murdaugh also faces civil action in a boating incident for which his late son, Paul, was facing charges prior to his death.
Mallory Beach, 19, was killed when a boat driven by Paul Murdaugh, who was reportedly intoxicated, crashed onto a bridge, throwing her overboard. Beach’s family and the family of another person on the boat at the time are suing Alex Murdaugh in connection with the crash.
Contributors: Michael M. DeWitt, Jr., Hampton County Guardian; Daniel J. Gross, Greenville News; The Associated Press