A South Carolina lawyer described in court papers as Alex Murdaugh’s best friend and college roommate has been suspended from practicing law amid allegations he helped the scion steal millions of dollars from a wrongful death lawsuit settlement for his former housekeeper.
In a Friday ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court, Cory Fleming was placed on interim suspension, pending an investigation, under a statute that states “upon receipt of sufficient evidence demonstrating that a lawyer poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice” the court may suspend an attorney.
The suspension is the latest legal snag for Fleming, a criminal defense lawyer for Moss, Kuhn, & Fleming, who has been accused in at least two lawsuits filed against Murdaugh.
“Cory Fleming is Alex Murdaugh’s best friend, his former college roommate, and his closest confidant,” Eric Bland, an attorney representing the sons of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, told The Daily Beast last month. “There is a history of Murdaugh referring people to Fleming.”
Murdaugh, 53, currently faces several charges after allegedly trying to orchestrate his own murder so his only living son could cash in on his $10 million life insurance policy. The elaborate scheme came just three months 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.
Several court documents allege that years before Murdaugh’s public fall from grace, his best friend Fleming had been helping him clean up messes. According to the Island Packet, Fleming has been involved in Murdaugh’s legal affairs since at least 2017—when he represented Paul Murdaugh after he was charged with possession of alcohol when he was 18. The charges were ultimately dismissed a year later.
Court documents state that around the same time, Fleming represented the family of Gloria Satterfield, who died at their property in 2018. Satterfield’s son insists they have never received a dime of the $4.3 million settlement that was eventually brokered, after Murdaugh allegedly diverted the funds into a fake bank account. Satterfield’s sons have since sued Murdaugh, claiming he encouraged them to use Fleming as their lawyer—without disclosing their personal relationship to them.
This week, Fleming released a statement admitting “material mistakes” in the wrongful death settlement, and squarely placed the money mix-up on Murdaugh.
“When it came time to disburse the settlement funds, Mr. Fleming trusted his close friend and colleague to deal with him truthfully and honorably, only to be misled and deceived in one of the worst possible ways for a lawyer: Alex Murdaugh lied to Mr. Fleming to steal client funds,” the statement said.
Fleming is also accused in a separate September lawsuit of helping Murdaugh attempt to “shift the blame” of the February 2019 boat crash fiasco from Paul to another teenager onboard at the time, Connor Cook.
A lawsuit filed on Cook’s behalf alleges that Murdaugh “encouraged and instructed” the teen and his family to retain Fleming, claiming he was the “best” attorney for the case. Fleming then allegedly told Cook not to speak with police, “increasing the potential that Plaintiff Cook would continue to be a suspect and potentially face criminal charges as operator of the boat.”
“Fleming’s instructions served to convert the unwitting Plaintiff Cook into an agent of protection for Paul Murdaugh, exposing Plaintiff Cook to the potential of being charged as boat operator and therefore responsible for the accident,” the lawsuit states.
Fleming also has ties to the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit—where Murdaugh's family had served as solicitor for decades. According to his company website, Fleming was an assistant solicitor for two years right after he graduated from law school. His time as the chief prosecuting agency in the area coincided with Richard Murdaugh III’s reign as solicitor.
“The rules of professional conduct always will prevail over lawyers conduct. That is an absolute,” Bland told The Daily Beast on Friday when asked about the news of Fleming’s suspension. “It will be interesting to see if Alex [Murdaugh] supports that Cory was a victim and not a willing participant.”