Alex Murdaugh, a once-prominent South Carolina lawyer accused of plotting to orchestrate his own murder in an insurance fraud scheme, was charged Thursday with misappropriating funds from the death settlement of his former housekeeper.
Murdaugh was charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses for redirecting millions of dollars intended for the sons of the housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, to a fraudulent bank account he controlled. He was arrested at a drug rehab facility in Orlando, Florida, according to The Associated Press.
Satterfield worked as a nanny and housekeeper for South Carolina’s powerful Murdaugh family for decades. She died under mysterious circumstances in February 2018; Murdaugh told her sons she tripped over the family dog and fell down a set of stairs. The death was never reported to the coroner.
At Murdaugh’s encouragement, her sons pursued a wrongful death settlement against his insurance company using Corey Fleming, a lawyer recommended by Murdaugh.
The settlement resulted in a nearly $5 million payout, but according to a lawsuit filed by the sons last week, they were kept in the dark about most of the money. Instead of going to Satterfield’s children, the funds were funneled into an account with a similar name opened by Murdaugh, they alleged.
Thursday’s charges add to Murdaugh’s legal woes. He was charged last month with insurance fraud in a separate scheme that police say involved an attempt to arrange his own murder so that his only surviving son, Buster, could collect on a $10 million life insurance benefit.
A would-be killer’s bullet only grazed Murdaugh’s head. The accused hitman, a handyman named Curtis Edward Smith who’s worked for Murdaugh in the past, said that he was “set up” and that the gun fired as he was wrestling the firearm away from the lawyer.
Murdaugh, 53, is a central figure in four other ongoing investigations, including those involving additional mysterious deaths and stolen money.
In early June, Murdaugh’s wife, 52-year-old Maggie, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul, were found shot to death on the family’s 1,700-acre hunting estate in what police said was a double-homicide.
In 2019, 19-year-old Mallory Beach died after an allegedly inebriated Paul Murdaugh crashed the family boat into a bridge. (Paul died before the case went to trial.) Murdaugh directed one of the passengers on the boat, Connor Cook, to hire Fleming to represent him in a lawsuit and told Cook to “keep his mouth shut,” leading to Cook being falsely accused of driving the boat, according to a lawsuit Cook filed.
And in 2015, a classmate of Buster Murdaugh, 19-year-old Stephen Smith, was found dead on a rural road with blunt-force trauma to the head amid suspicious circumstances.
Murdaugh resigned from his law firm early last month after the firm accused him of misappropriating funds. In a statement afterward, Alex Murdaugh said he intended to check himself into rehab.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” he said in the statement. “I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”