Alex Murdaugh Arrested on Charges Connected to Gloria Satterfield
Embattled and suspended South Carolina attorney Richard “Alex” Murdaugh has been arrested . . . again.
The legal heir was hauled into custody in the Orlando, Florida area on two felony counts which originated in his native state of South Carolina. Those counts, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), are Obtaining Property by False Pretenses. Murdaugh’s attorneys say their client “intends to fully cooperate with this investigation.”
“These charges stem from a SLED investigation into misappropriated settlement funds in the death of Gloria Satterfield,” SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said in a Thursday news release. Additional information and documents would be forthcoming, Crosby indicated.
Satterfield was a Murduagh family housekeeper who died on Feb. 26, 2018. SLED said it was reopening an investigation into Satterfield’s passing after the local coroner reported that the alleged “trip and fall accident” on Murdaugh family property which ended the housekeeper’s life was never reported and never properly investigated.
“On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident,” Hampton County, S.C. Coroner Angela Topper told SLED in a letter for law enforcement assistance released on Sept. 15.
The reexamination of Satterfield’s death by South Carolina officials occurred after Satterfield’s heirs sued their own attorney for allegedly failing to turn over a settlement from the Murdaugh family which was connected to the death of the longtime employee. The South Carolina Supreme Court on Oct. 8 suspended the law license of the Satterfield family attorney who handled the deal. That attorney, Cory Howerton Fleming, was hired to represent the estate, but court papers indicate he was also Murdaugh’s college roommate and close friend of the man who was adverse to the estate’s legal interests.
Agents with SLED joined agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to nab Murdaugh as he left an Orlando-area drug rehabilitation facility, Crosby noted.
The 53-year-old Murdaugh was as of Thursday morning being held at the Orange County, Fla. Department of Corrections. Jail records there say he was picked up without a warrant as a “fugitive from justice.”
SLED said Murdaugh would be incarcerated in Florida pending an extradition hearing. He can either force a warrant for his return to South Carolina or waive his right to demand such a warrant.
The jail records say Murdaugh’s last known location was Okatie — a likely reference to a town due west of Hilton Head, S.C., in the area where the Murdaughs reside.
Murdaugh is currently out on bond in another South Carolina criminal inquiry. He was charged in mid-September with attempting to secure his own murder so that his surviving son Buster Murdaugh could pocket the proceeds of a $10 million life insurance policy. Alex Murdaugh allegedly asked his supposed drug dealer Curtis Edward Smith, 61, to shoot him in the head while he (Murdaugh) ostensibly changed a flat tire on the side of the road. The incident was supposedly staged to look like a random killing; authorities allege that it was nothing but a scheme concocted to ensure the continued financial prominence of the Murdaugh family. Smith is charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in connection the incident which resulted in only a graze to Murdaugh’s head. Murdaugh himself is charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report in this earlier case.
The disgraced heir to a South Carolina legal dynasty is also being sued civilly by his former law firm for allegedly stealing client funds.
SLED suggested its myriad investigations into Murdaugh are far from complete.
“Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations. I want to commend the hard work and dedication that our agents have shown over the last four months,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel in a news release. “They will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others. As I have said previously, we are committed to following the facts wherever they may lead us and we will not stop until justice is served.”
SLED said the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office would prosecute the most recent case against Murdaugh.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were local prosecutors in coastal South Carolina for nearly one hundred years. The Murdaugh family has been described as a legal dynasty the Palmetto State’s low country. The family’s woes gained national attention this past summer when Murdaugh’s wife Maggie Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh were found murdered on family property. Paul had been charged in a deadly boating crash which killed area teenager Mallory Beach.
According to another lawsuit, Fleming, the attorney Gloria Satterfield’s family hired to sue Alex Murdaugh, allegedly helped cover up Paul Murdaugh’s involvement in Beach’s death.
Murdaugh’s attorneys have blamed his personal woes on an opioid addiction. Murdaugh was in Florida receiving treatment for that alleged addiction when he was arrested Thursday. They reacted to the arrest with the following statement on Thursday:
Alex Murdaugh was taken into custody this morning at a Florida rehabilitation center. Alex is expected to be transported by SLED to Beaufort County where he will appear before a Magistrate for a bond hearing tomorrow.
We have not seen the warrants but have been informed that he is charged with two counts of obtaining goods under false pretenses relating to the settlement proceeds from the Estate of Gloria Satterfield.
Alex intends to fully cooperate with this investigation, as he has with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son. He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted from the efforts to solve their murders.
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