Lawyers say Murdaugh housekeeper’s heirs never received money after reportedly falling, dying in family home
Estate attorneys for the Murdaugh Family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterifield, Eric Bland and Ronny Richter discuss the investigation into her death and its aftermath on ‘The Story’Estate attorneys for the Murdaugh Family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterifield, Eric Bland and Ronny Richter discuss the investigation into her death and its aftermath on ‘The Story’
Alex Murdaugh’s defense lawyer referenced apparent “medical records” purportedly proving the disgraced attorney was grazed in the head by a bullet during a botched suicide plot so his surviving son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy – but such evidence has not been publicly produced amid widespread speculation about Murdaugh’s lack of any visible injuries during a bond hearing last month.
Jim Griffin, representing Murdaugh alongside fellow South Carolina Democratic heavyweight attorney Dick Harpootlian, tweeted to local FITNews journalist Mandy Matney on Monday, saying, “surely your ‘sources’ have confirmed that medical records establish that Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head. If not, I will wager you a bottle of Daufuskie Island Rum. What do you say?”
Griffin has not returned Fox News Digital’s request for comment about such medical records, which are also being sought by lawyer Mark Tinsley, representing the mother of 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
At a Lexington County court hearing last week, Tinsley put forward a motion for medical records subpoenaed from the Savannah hospital where Murdaugh was taken after an alleged Sept. 4 shooting. Tinsley previously told Fox News Digital after the hearing that Murdaugh’s defense team is attempting to “squash” such a motion, arguing medical privacy laws prevent their release.
Murdaugh confessed to South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) that he hired his former legal client and alleged longtime drug dealer, Curtis Eddie Smith, to shoot him so his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. Alex Murdaugh claims he provided Smith with a gun and the two went to a rural Hampton County road on Sept. 4.
Alex Murdaugh sits during his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
(AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Smith allegedly fired but missed, only grazing Murdaugh in the head. During his bond hearing, defense lawyer Harpootlian said Murdaugh’s decadeslong addiction had worsened since the June 7 murders of his wife and son. Hampton County Magistrate Judge Tonja Alexander set his bond at $20,000 and allowed Murdaugh’s release back to an out-of-state rehabilitation facility without GPS monitoring. There were no visible bandages on Murdaugh’s head when he appeared at the hearing wearing a prison jumpsuit.
Beach was killed in a February 2019 boat crash in Beaufort County. Alex Murdaugh’s son Paul Murdaugh was eventually charged with boating under the influence, but the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office dropped those charges in June after he and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were found shot dead on the family’s Colleton County property in a still-unsolved double murder. Beach’s mother is still pursuing a lawsuit against Alex and Buster Murdaugh, as well as the convenience store where Paul Murdaugh purchased alcohol the night of the crash while underage.
Meanwhile, a lawyer and former college buddy of Alex Murdaugh apologized to the sons of Alex Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, Wednesday, agreeing to pay them money he received as a result of insurance settlements in a wrongful death lawsuit involving their mother’s death.
As new court documents claim to illustrate “a story of trust and betrayal” amongst legal professionals in the rural Low Country region. Corey Fleming, who was also godfather to Alex Murdaugh’s murdered son, Paul Murdaugh, said his longtime friend “misled and deceived” him “in one of the worst possible ways for a lawyer: Alex Murdaugh lied to Mr. Fleming to steal client funds.”
Fleming and his Beaufort-based law firm, Moss, Kuhn & Fleming Attorneys, agreed to a new settlement with Satterfield’s estate on Oct. 1 and “are personally repaying all legal fees and expenses they received, and the firm’s malpractice insurance carrier is paying the full limits of its policy,” according to a statement provided to Fox News Digital by Eric Bland, who is now representing Satterfield’s estate.
Satterfield, a 57-year-old housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh family for over two decades, supposedly tripped over dogs and down steps at the Murdaugh’s home in Colleton County on Feb. 1, 2018. Sustaining a head injury, she died at the hospital weeks later on Feb. 26, 2018, without ever regaining consciousness. After her funeral, Alex Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons that he was responsible for their mother’s death and introduced them to an attorney, Fleming, to handle a wrongful death suit against him. But her sons were never informed of a possible conflict of interest, as Fleming was also Alex Murdaugh’s former college roommate and godfather to Paul Murdaugh.
Court documents filed Tuesday in Hampton County Common Pleas Court provide more insight into how Alex Murdaugh allegedly embezzled millions from Satterfield’s sons using a P.O. box. On Wednesday, the Hampton-based law firm PMPED filed a separate lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh, alleging he used a fake bank account to steal money from the firm founded by his great-grandfather and its clients.
“This is a very sad development. Alex holds every member of the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, Detrick law firm in very high esteem,” Griffin tweeted in reaction to the lawsuit. “He has pledged his full cooperation to the firm.”
Fleming later convinced Tony Satterfield to sign over representation of his mother’s estate to Chad Westendorf, vice president of Palmetto State Bank, citing potential “business issues” that might arise.
During a Dec. 19, 2018, court hearing with Westendorf, Judge Carmen Mullen approved a partial settlement of $505,000. Fleming then began dispersing that money weeks later on Jan. 7, 2019, sending a check in the amount of $403,500 to a payee named Forge, according to Tuesday’s filing.
“This check was not sent to Forge Consulting in Atlanta, Georgia. Rather upon Murdaugh’s directive was sent by Fleming to a P.O. Box address given him by Murdaugh,” the filing says. Fleming continued to pursue additional insurance policies, and through a mediation in March, 2019, was able to secure an additional settlement in the amount of $3.8 million.
The total settlement amounted to about $4.3 million. Mullen later signed off on an order that said about $2.8 million of that money was entitled to the beneficiaries of the estate, and that Westendorf, as the representative or the estate, was to later pay that amount to Satterfield’s sons. But the sons were never made aware of any hearing or settlements in their mother’s death and were never given a dime.
The order also was never properly filed into public record as required under South Carolina law.
“They were never told of the settlements. They were never told of the court hearings,” Bland said in an appearance on ABC News of Satterfield’s sons. “They were never told of the dispersements. They want to know what happened to the money. They have to answer for what they did. It is a tremendous stain on the justice system in our state. I’m confident that at the end of this, truth will always come out.”
Mullen’s order also awarded attorney’s fees of $1.435 million – but Fleming did not pay himself. Of that amount, Fleming paid his law firm approximately $666,000 and the remainder went to Alex Murdaugh. Tuesday’s filing also provided insight on how PMPED was allegedly involved in Satterfield’s settlements. PMPED represented Satterfield’s estate as well as her son Tony Satterfield as its initial representative.
“PMPED sent letters of representation of the Estate to third parties, prepared probate documents for the Estate and the Personal Representative of the Estate, notarized probate documents and exchanged emails with Cory Fleming, also attorney for the Personal Representative and the beneficiaries of the Estate about the settlement funds,” the filing says. “Presumably, PMPED also approved in the change of the Personal Representative as this was discussed between Fleming and Murdaugh.”
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