COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — A longtime friend of South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh now faces 18 charges of stealing more than $3 million in insurance money from the housekeeper’s family Murdaugh’s deceased, according to recently unsealed court documents.
An indictment released Wednesday accuses Cory Fleming of working with Murdaugh to defraud the sons of Gloria Satterfield, who died in a fall at the Murdaugh home in 2018, by suing Murdaugh on behalf of the sons but embezzling payments from resulting assurance towards Murdaugh and himself. .
Fleming also wrote checks from Satterfield’s estate himself to pay for his own mortgage, credit card debt, tax payments, video games and other purchases, prosecutors said.
The sons said in a lawsuit that they never received any money. They said Murdaugh convinced them at their mother’s funeral to use Fleming as a lawyer and sue him for wrongful death, without revealing that Fleming had been his college roommate and godfather to at least one of Fleming’s sons. Murdaugh.
According to the latest indictment, Fleming, 53, chose not to tell Satterfield’s sons about two settlements he obtained from insurers. Instead, he knowingly transferred money from the two deals to a fraudulent bank account that Murdaugh had named similarly to that of a company that handles the settlements, authorities said.
Fleming previously said he was assisting the sons’ new lawyers and maintained that he “was not a willing participant in Mr. Murdaugh’s scheme but was used”, according to a joint statement between Fleming and the lawyers sons in October.
Lawyers listed for Fleming did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Fleming plans to turn up before a virtual bond hearing scheduled for Thursday, said Robert Kittle, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office.
Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, attorneys for the Satterfield sons, said Wednesday that the grand jury clearly did not believe Fleming’s defense that he was another of Murdaugh’s victims: “Justice may move slowly but when it moves, it s collapses like a tidal wave. “, they said in a statement.
Grand jurors also issued four new charges against Murdaugh. Murdaugh currently faces 75 state charges, including trust, forgery, money laundering, computer crime and now criminal conspiracy with Fleming, accusing him in total of stealing nearly $8.5 million intended for victims of wrongful deaths and insurance settlements. He is also accused of trying to arrange his own death so that his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh, 53, has been jailed since October. A judge set his bond at $7million and refused to lower it, even though Murdaugh’s lawyer argued his bank accounts had been seized in civil lawsuits and he could barely afford to buy underwear at the Richland County Jail. He pinned his problems on a years-long drug addiction.
His legal troubles came to light after his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were killed in a shooting at the family home in June. Murdaugh’s lawyers have insisted he had nothing to do with it, calling on investigators to work as hard to find their killers as they try to untangle Murdaugh’s finances.
Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all elected prosecutors in Hampton County, where his family’s law firm bore the Murdaugh moniker until recently. The South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Murdaugh and Fleming from practicing law in the state.
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