COLUMBIA, SC – A prominent South Carolina lawyer has been charged with stealing insurance settlements intended for the sons of his late housekeeper which a lawsuit has found to total more than $ 4 million, announced Thursday state police.
The arrest is the latest development in six state police investigations into Murdaugh, including the deaths of his wife and son, millions of dollars missing from the massive law firm founded a century ago by his great-grandfather and trying to organize his own death so that his surviving son could get a $ 10 million life insurance policy.
Thursday’s arrest on two counts of obtaining property under false pretenses involves Murdaugh’s housekeeper for decades, Gloria Satterfield, the state’s Law Enforcement Division said in a statement.
Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons at his funeral in February 2018 that he would get insurance settlements for his death and take care of them, according to a lawsuit filed by the sons. Murdaugh managed to get over $ 4 million from his insurers, but he only told the sons about a $ 500,000 settlement and never sent them a dime, according to the lawsuit.
Murdaugh took the settlement money by setting up a fraudulent bank account with a name similar to that of a legal consultancy that handles the settlements, according to the lawsuit.
The Satterfield family called the day bittersweet in a statement released by their lawyers.
“Greed and betrayal are at the heart of this case,” lawyers Eric Bland and Ronald Richter said in their statement.
The Murdaugh family told the sons their mother tripped over the family dog and died weeks later from her lingering injuries. The death was never reported to the Hampton County Coroner, who asked state police to investigate why she had not been called to review what she would consider a death accidental.
The sons also followed Murdaugh’s advice to hire attorney Cory Fleming to be their mother’s executor without telling them that Fleming was a longtime friend, former college roommate and godfather of at minus one of Murdaugh’s sons.
Fleming and Murdaugh’s law licenses have been suspended as investigations continue.
Murdaugh is being held in Orange County Jail in Florida pending his extradition, investigators said. His lawyers vowed in a bail hearing on various charges last month that Murdaugh would return to South Carolina without a fight if charged with additional crimes.
Murdaugh’s attorneys said in a statement he “intended to cooperate fully with this investigation, as he did with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son.” He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted attention from efforts to resolve their murders. “
The deaths of Murdaugh’s son and wife at their Colleton County home in June remain unsolved. Murdaugh said he found Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and their son Paul, 22, shot dead after returning home after visiting his father in hospital, authorities said.
In September, Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud and other counts after reporting that his head was grazed by a bullet when someone tried to shoot him.
Curtis “Eddie” Smith is accused of shooting Murdaugh. He told The Associated Press last month that Murdaugh asked for his help on September 4, but didn’t tell him he wanted Smith to shoot him until he was on the side of the road. .
Smith said the gun exploded as he tried to stop Murdaugh from shooting himself. He bristled at suggestions from Murdaugh’s attorneys that he was a drug dealer, saying he was good friends with Murdaugh after the attorney assisted him in a workers’ compensation case.
“With a friend like that, who needs enemies?” Smith told an AP reporter as he limped around his property.
Smith said last month he was not sure whether the bullet hit Murdaugh or not, saying he grabbed the gun, immediately walked away and abandoned the gun.
In an interview with The Today Show that aired Thursday, Smith said he was 1000% certain Murdaugh had not been shot.
“There was no blood on me; there was no blood on him, ”Smith said.
Murdaugh’s attorneys said they saw medical records showing Murdaugh was covered in blood when he was helicoptered to a hospital, but did not show them to the public.
Thursday’s arrest is just another step in the long process of justice across all inquiries, state law enforcement division chief Mark Keel said in a statement.
“As I said before, we are committed to following the facts wherever they take us and we will not stop until justice is served,” Keel said.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.