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Lawyer Alex Murdaugh accused of plundering governess’s wrongful death settlement

Alex Murdaugh, a former South Carolina lawyer accused of plotting to orchestrate his own murder as part of an insurance fraud scheme, was charged on Thursday with embezzling funds from settling his death. former cleaning lady.

Murdaugh has been charged with two counts of obtaining property under 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 center in Orlando, Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Satterfield has 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 that she tripped over the family dog ​​and fell down a staircase. The death was never reported to the coroner.

At Murdaugh’s encouragement, his sons pursued a wrongful death settlement against his insurance company using Corey Fleming, a lawyer recommended by Murdaugh.

Alex Murdaugh, in a photo provided by the Hampton County Detention Center. (Hampton County Detention Center via AP)

The settlement resulted in a payment of nearly $ 5 million, 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 the children of Satterfield, the funds were funneled into an account with a similar name opened by Murdaugh, they alleged.

Thursday’s charges add to Murdaugh’s legal problems. He was charged last month with insurance fraud as part of a separate scheme which police said involved an attempt to stage his own murder so that his only surviving son, Buster, could receive a benefit. $ 10 million life insurance.

The bullet from an alleged killer only grazed Murdaugh’s head. The accused hitman, a handyman by the name of Curtis Edward Smith who worked for Murdaugh in the past, said he was “trapped” and the gun fired as he was driving away the lawyer gun.

Lawyer Alex Murdaugh accused of plundering governess’s wrongful death settlement
Curtis Edward Smith is seen in this photo provided by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office. (Colleton County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Murdaugh, 53, is a central figure in four other ongoing investigations, including those involving other mysterious deaths and stolen money.

In early June, Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son Paul, 22, were found shot dead on the 1,700-acre family hunting estate in what police said was a double homicide.

In 2019, 19-year-old Mallory Beach died after an allegedly intoxicated Paul Murdaugh crashed the family boat onto a bridge. (Paul died before the case went to trial.) Murdaugh asked one of the boat’s passengers, Connor Cook, to hire Fleming to represent him in a lawsuit and told Cook to “keep his mouth shut. Which led Cook to be falsely accused of operating the boat, according to a lawsuit brought by Cook.

And in 2015, Buster Murdaugh’s classmate Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead on a rural road with blunt head trauma under suspicious circumstances.

Murdaugh resigned from his law firm early last month after the firm accused him of embezzlement. In a statement afterwards, Alex Murdaugh said he intended to go to rehab.

“The murders of my wife and my son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I made a lot of decisions that I really regret, ”he said in the statement. “I am resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry for everyone I have hurt, including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and rehabilitate my relationships. “