Murdaugh exits rehab, gets arrested over settlement funds

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 10:59 AM EDT
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ORLANDO, Fla. (WRDW/WAGT) - Prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh has been arrested again, this time in connection with allegedly misappropriated funds from a settlement in the death of his housekeeper.

On Thursday morning, agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement took Alex Murdaugh into custody upon his release from a drug rehabilitation facility in Orlando.

He was arrested on two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, according to SLED.

The charges stem from a SLED investigation into misappropriated settlement funds in the death of Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.

Murdaugh has been taken to Orange County Corrections in Florida, where he will be held until he receives an extradition hearing.

Upon extradition being granted or waived, he will be brought back to South Carolina to receive a bond hearing.

A spokesperson for Murdaugh says he’ll be back in Beaufort on Friday for the hearing.

Satterfield died in February 2018, and according to the wrongful-death legal settlement, she died from injuries she suffered after a “trip and fall accident” that reportedly happened at Murdaugh’s home.

Her death is being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division after a coroner found an inconsistency in the injuries she suffered.

Satterfield’s children said they never received the more than $4 million settlement that was reached in a wrongful-death case.

An attorney who Murdaugh referred to his late housekeeper’s children said he was deceived and lied to by Murdaugh as he was representing the children in their mother’s death settlement case.

Attorney Cory Fleming said Murdaugh lied to Fleming to steal client funds during the case. Fleming stated that Murdaugh was his “close friend and colleague,” but he was misled and deceived when it came time to the disbursement of settlement funds.

This latest case will be prosecuted by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

“Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel.

He said investigators “will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others.”

Satterfield’s survivors called Murdaugh’s arrest “a very good start to holding everyone accountable who either participated knowingly or breached their duties.”

Their statement said: “The bottom line is no one is above the law.”

String of problems

It’s been a rough few months for the Murdaugh family.

Murdaugh has been accused of stealing funds from his own law firm, from which he resigned in early September, the day before he was wounded in a shooting along a Hampton County road.

Investigators say that shooting was an insurance fraud scheme designed to provide a $10 million death settlement for Murdaugh’s surviving son. Murdaugh and a second man, Curtis Smith, have been charged in the alleged plot.

Murdaugh’s wife and youngest son, Maggie and Paul, were gunned down at the family’s rural Colleton County hunting property back in June.

After the shooting, Murdaugh announced his resignation from his law firm and his intention to enter rehab for substance-abuse treatment.

The South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Murdaugh’s license to practice law in Septmber.

Murdaugh’s former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, filed a lawsuit against Murdaugh over funds it alleged he misappropriated from the firm.

Lawyers said the discovery of the scheme originated when the firm inquired about a fee owed to them from a case that Murdaugh worked on along with another law firm. On Sept. 2, 2021, lawyers reported a check was found on Murdaugh’s desk from the other law firm.

The suit states that a notation on the check indicated it was partial payment of the fees the firm were inquiring about. However, PMPED officials said the check was made payable to Murdaugh’s personal account and not PMPED.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WCSC