Alex Murdaugh, the embattled South Carolina lawyer already facing a bewildering array of criminal charges, has been indicted on two dozen new financial crimes for allegedly defrauding victims and laundering nearly $5 million.
A South Carolina grand jury slapped Murdaugh, 53, with five separate indictments, including money laundering, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, and forgery. In all, Murdaugh faces 27 new counts in the indictments, which claim he “defrauded victims and thereafter laundered $4,853,488.09,” the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said Friday.
Murdaugh already faces charges for allegedly orchestrating his own shooting in September, and diverting millions of dollars to a fake bank account from a wrongful-death settlement meant for the sons of his former housekeeper and nanny, Gloria Satterfield.
“We are not surprised by these new charges relating to Alex’s handling of client funds and law firm fees. We have made it clear that Alex regrets that his actions have diverted attention from solving the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul,” Murdaugh’s spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Friday.
The new indictments, which come after an investigation aided by the feds, paint an even grimmer picture of Murdaugh’s misdeeds in five South Carolina counties.
Prosecutors allege that in all, Murdaugh defrauded and laundered $792,000 in Bamberg, $125,000 in Orangeburg, $70,000 in Colleton, $3,483,431.95 in Beaufort, and $383,056.14 in Allendale. His alleged victims include a highway patrolman who was injured while on duty, documents state.
The multimillion-dollar fraud scheme in Beaufort is related to the Satterfield wrongful-death settlement.
“The Satterfield family is grateful to law enforcement for their continued efforts in the investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Gloria Satterfield and the egregious breaches of trust and theft committed upon her sons,” Eric Bland, who is representing the Satterfield family, said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“Of course, Mr. Murdaugh is entitled to his presumption of innocence and to his rights under the criminal process. For now, however, it seems the State Wide Grand Jury was as unimpressed with his opioid defense and other explanations given as we have been. As always, we are steadfastly in the Satterfield corner and committed to seeing these matters to the end. Ultimately, we will entrust a Judge or jury to let us know when the Satterfields have received their full cup of justice—not Alex Murdaugh or his attorneys,” Bland added.
The slew of indictments mark more bad news for Murdaugh in a long-simmering saga that’s already involved a bizarre boat accident, a double murder, drug addiction, and allegations of embezzlement.
The charges in connection with the Satterfield saga have led to Murdaugh’s indefinite incarceration after a judge concluded he was a danger to society upon reviewing his court-mandated psychiatric evaluation. Prosecutors allege that after Satterfield “fell and hit her head” on Murdaugh property in 2018—and later died from a stroke and cardiac arrest—the disgraced lawyer coordinated with the housekeeper’s family “to sue himself in order to seek an insurance settlement.”
Satterfield’s two sons, however, insist they have not received a dime of the $4.3 million settlement, which prosecutors allege Murdaugh negotiated in secret, ultimately pocketing the cash for his “own use.”
The shocking Oct. 13 charges came less than a month after Murdaugh and his alleged former drug dealer were charged in a doomed plot to kill himself so his surviving son, Buster, could collect a $10 million insurance payout of his own. Murdaugh was granted bond for those charges after his lawyers argued he needed to remain in rehab for his drug addiction that was exacerbated after Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found murdered outside their Hampton County estate. At the time, Paul was facing charges for a 2019 boat crash that killed a teenage girl.
Murdaugh also has been implicated in a series of lawsuits, ranging from allegations that he conspired to influence the 2019 boat investigation to the claims that he swindled millions from his former law firm. Earlier this month, Chesterfield County Judge Dan Hall ruled that Murdaugh will have all his cash and assets frozen and controlled by court-appointed overseers amid allegations he has been hiding his money.
The new indictments provide new details on Murdaugh’s alleged efforts to defraud his clients.
Prosecutors allege the scheme started as early as October 2015 in Allendale County, where Murdaugh allegedly swindled $338,056.14 meant for a client, Deon J. Martin, and his family. The indictment states that Murdaugh used the stolen funds, meant as compensation for Martin’s “injuries,” to pay for his own credit card bills, cash, and checks to associates.
A year later, Murdaugh allegedly committed a similar crime in Colleton County, stealing a $70,000 check meant for the trust of Manuel Santis-Cristiani “for his injuries.”
In 2019, Murdaugh allegedly stole millions from the Satterfield wrongful death settlement in Beaufort County. Then, in January 2020, prosecutors allege Murdaugh relied on “his prestige and reputation as a lawyer” to convince a highway patrolman who was injured in the line of duty to sign over his insurance check to his former law firm.
At the time, Murdaugh allegedly told the patrolman, Thomas Moore, “that the money could not be disbursed until his litigation was finished.” Instead, Murdaugh allegedly deposited the $125,000 check into a separate, personal bank account that has been named in several other lawsuits against the lawyer.
“Instead of compensating Patrolman Moore, Murdaugh instead breached Patrolman Moore’s trust and converted the money to his own personal use, for expenses including but not limited to overdraft fees, cash, and checks written to associates,” the indictment states.
In March, prosecutors allege that Murdaugh then “convinced an attorney from another firm with which he was associated on a case to write a $192,000 check for Murdaugh’s share of legal fees to him personally rather than following the normal practice of writing the check” to his former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED).
The Bamberg County indictment states that Murdaugh allegedly told the attorney he was going to “structure his fees in part because of possible civil liability” in the 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach. Prosecutors state that in reality, Murdaugh reposted the check for his own personal use, including paying for his credit-card bill and family expenses.