Alex Murdaugh, the once prominent South Carolina lawyer accused of orchestrating his own murder in a twisted insurance plot, allegedly funneled money from his clients and former law firm into a fake bank account for years, according to a new lawsuit.
Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED), the law firm founded a century ago by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, made the shocking allegation in a suit filed Wednesday in Colleton County court. It alleges that Murdaugh, who was ousted from the firm last month over allegations of theft, “was able to covertly steal these funds by disguising disbursements from settlements as payments” to a fraudulent Bank of America account.
“For several years Murdaugh submitted false documentation to the firm and to clients that allowed him to funnel stolen funds into fraudulent bank accounts,” PMPED said in a Wednesday statement. In addition, the suit states, "Murdaugh, on occasion, used firm assets in an unauthorized manner and without the consent or knowledge of his former partner to further his scheme to defraud.”
The law firm is also seeking information “on where the ill-gotten funds went and if any of it is hidden away” and hopes to recover stolen funds.
The allegations suggest Murdaugh had been embroiled in wrongdoing well before his family’s legal dynasty was thrust into the public spotlight by a cascading series of dramas, from allegations of drug addiction to homicide and insurance fraud. The suit comes a day after Murdaugh was accused in another lawsuit of diverting millions of dollars from a wrongful death settlement meant for the sons of his former housekeeper into a fake bank account.
“This is a very sad development. Alex holds every member of the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, Detrick law firm in very high esteem,” Jim Griffin, one of Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers, told The Daily Beast in response to the PMPED lawsuit. “He has pledged his full cooperation to the firm.”
The family first made national headlines in June when Murdaugh’s wife and son were found fatally shot at their estate. At the time, the son, Paul, was facing criminal charges over his role in a fatal 2019 boat crash.
Months later, Murdaugh made headlines again after calling police to say he’d been shot in the head by a mystery truck driver on a Lowcountry backroad. In reality, prosecutors now allege, Murdaugh and his former drug dealer attempted to stage his murder to arrange an insurance payout to his surviving son, Buster.
Just hours after the shooting, Murdaugh issued a surprise announcement stating he had quit his family’s firm and was entering rehab for drug dependency.
Both Murdaugh and the alleged dealer face criminal charges in the bizarre episode—but Murdaugh was allowed to leave jail and go to rehab in another state after allegedly admitting to police what he’d done.
PMPED then issued their own statement last month claiming Murdaugh had actually been forced out after they discovered he’d “misappropriated funds.” The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the firm’s allegations.
According to PMPED’s lawsuit, obtained by The Daily Beast, the firm learned in early September that Murdaugh “had a bank account with Bank of America in the name of ‘Alexander Murdaugh d/b/a Forge’, a fictitious entity that provides no services and makes no products for sale.”
“It was further learned that Alex Murdaugh used this account to convert monies owed to PMPED and its clients to his own personal use,” the lawsuit states.
“Alex Murdaugh knew that his actions would evade detection based on his experience with PMPED and its long-standing business relations with Forge Consulting, LLC (‘FCL’) in Columbia, South Carolina,” the suit added.
It’s not the first time that Murdaugh’s alleged connection with Forge Consulting LLC, a Georgia-based financial firm, has been called into question—though FCL have previously denied any involvement with the scion.
Court documents filed Tuesday allege that after the Murdaughs’ former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died on their property in 2018, her sons were supposed to get upward of $4.3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit from Murdaugh’s insurance company. Instead, checks for the court-approved 2019 settlement were made out to “Forge” and allegedly sent to a P.O. Box in Hampton County, South Carolina. Satterfield’s sons have allegedly yet to see a dime of the settlement.
Murdaugh allegedly chose the name because PMPED had a “long-standing business relationship” with Forge Consulting, including brokering settlements and financial advice to its attorneys, the law firm’s suit alleged.
The lawsuit adds that while the firm was not aware of Murdaugh’s alleged scheme until Sept. 2, PMPED had inquired about the status of at least one fee owed to the firm from a case that Murdaugh worked on.
“Questions regarding the check for the fees owed to PMPED failed to produce a satisfactory explanation,” the suit states, adding that on Sept. 2, a check was found on Murdaugh’s desk that appeared to be for some of the fees.
The check was notably made out to Murdaugh and not the firm, prompting PMPED to open “a review of prior settlements” of his cases.
The review yielded numerous checks made out to “Forge”—and when the firm asked Forge Consulting LLC they “confirmed that it had not provided any services for the clients identified by PMPED,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit says that on Sept. 3, PMPED confronted Murdaugh about the missing funds and he admitted to the scheme and resigned.
Days later, after the botched assisted-suicide plot, PMPED notified the South Carolina Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel “of the suspected ethical violation” and his law license was eventually suspended pending an investigation.
“PMPED has reimbursed all client trust accounts who have suffered a known loss as a result of Alex Murdaugh’s action while he was an employee of PMPED and working on behalf of clients of PMPED,” the lawsuit states. “It is anticipated that additional information may become known that could lead to more losses to PMPED as it protects its clients’ interests.”