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New Accusations In Alex Murdaugh's Alleged 'Fraudulent Scheme' Emerge As Late Housekeeper's Sons Win Legal Battle
After Gloria Satterfield died in 2018 in what was deemed an accident at Alex Murdaugh's family home, the beleaguered attorney diverted money that was meant for her estate, according to attorney Eric Bland.
New accusations surrounding beleaguered widower Alex Murdaugh’s alleged “fraudulent scheme” have begun to emerge in court filings, days after the sons of his late housekeeper reached an agreement with their former attorney last week, that assert Murdaugh withheld insurance money following their mother’s 2018 death at his home.
Michael "Tony" Satterfield and Brian Harriot, whose mother, Gloria Satterfield, died in 2018 in what was deemed a trip-and-fall accident at the Murdaugh home, are set to receive an insurance payout along with refunds for legal fees and expenses after an agreement was reached in a lawsuit filed on their behalf last month. Attorney Corey Fleming and his law firm, Moss, Kuhn and Fleming, along with their insurer, reached the agreement on Friday in connection to the pending suit over Gloria Satterfield’s estate, according to a statement from the South Carolina firm Bland and Richter.
"Mr. Fleming and his firm agreed that the Estate will be paid back all legal fees and expenses Mr. Fleming and his law firm received from the $4,300,000 they recovered for the estate in connection with the claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Gloria Satterfield," the statement reads. "In addition, their malpractice insurance carrier agreed to pay to the Estate their full policy limits of insurance.
"Mr. Fleming stepped forward and did the right thing by the estate. Mr. Fleming and his law firm maintain, they — like others — were victims of Alex Murdaugh's fraudulent scheme,” it reads, adding that a joint statement from Fleming, his firm, and the Satterfield Estate will come later this week.
Murdaugh, who left his law firm, was shot in the head, and entered rehab in early September after allegedly embezzling millions from his family's legacy law firm, was a close friend of Fleming; the two had been college roommates. Attorney Eric Bland told People that after Satterfield’s funeral, Murdaugh approached her sons and recommended Fleming represent them. He also encouraged them to bring legal claims in connection to the accidental death on his property, Bland said.
Rather than choosing a Satterfield family member, Fleming appointed a prior colleague of his and Murdaugh’s, Chad Westendorf, to represent the late housekeeper’s estate in the proceedings. From that point, Westendorf was the only one to petition the court for approval of future settlements, and a figure of roughly $505,000 was agreed upon after Murdaugh admitted negligence. However, Satterfield’s sons did not participate in the settlement negotiations or sign any agreements; they were not even told that the money had been recovered on their behalf, according to the lawsuit.
“[Fleming] was, from that point forward, only communicating with Chad Westendorf, and Westendorf was not communicating at all with our clients,” Bland, the sons’ attorney, told Oxygen.com on Tuesday. “So, our clients never knew there were any of these settlements.”
On Tuesday, Westendorf repaid the $30,000 that he received for his role, Bland told Oxygen.com.
Satterfield’s sons only learned of the petition for a $505,000 settlement in their mother’s death after reading a newspaper article regarding the death of Mallory Beach, who was killed in 2019 a boating accident while aboard the Murdaughs' Sea Hunt Triton powerboat with Paul Murdaugh when it crashed into the R.C. Berkeley Bridge during an alleged drunken night voyage. Bland said this was when his clients began asking questions regarding their mother’s estate.
In September, Bland also filed a lawsuit on behalf of Satterfield’s sons after he said he found a missing judge's order approving a $4.3 million settlement in the housekeeper’s death. The document, which he told Oxygen.com had no court terming or case number, had been signed by a judge based on what had been presented in court — but was never filed.
“After the hearing, Fleming went back with Murdaugh and distributed the money completely different than what the order said,” he said.
Bland told Oxygen.com that he submitted a legal filing on Tuesday in which he included a copy of a check for $2.9 million — the awarded $4.3 million, less attorneys fees — which had been made out to a company called Forge. Alex Murdaugh had endorsed the check and then deposited the funds into his bank account, Bland said. He noted that this alleged dummy company is not to be confused with the national settlement planning firm.
“There's a Forge Consulting in Atlanta that everybody uses to do structured settlements,” Bland explained. “He kind of wanted to make it look like that the checks were going to that Forge Consulting. That’s putting aside the fact that a defendant could never tell the plaintiff's lawyer to deviate where you send money.”
Meanwhile, amid a torrent of revelations about the Murdaugh family that have come to light after 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and her 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh were found shot to death at the family’s Colleton County property in June, South Carolina and local authorities are re-investigating the alleged trip and fall incident, as inconsistencies have been discovered regarding what happened after she died.
“The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed,” Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper wrote in the letter obtained by Oxygen.com. “On the death certificate, the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall incident.”
In light of the inconsistencies, Topper said it was prudent that law enforcement opened an investigation into the death of a woman who had once been a central figure in the family’s lives. Authorities opened a new investigation into Satterfield’s death in mid-September.
In a statement on his firm’s website, Bland said Satterfield’s sons were initially told that she had tripped on some stairs at the family’s former Hampton home.
“They were told that Murdaugh’s dogs caused her to trip — causing a fall which resulted in her sustaining a traumatic brain injury,” he said.
Bland said that it's unclear whether the family called 911 after the alleged accident or how Satterfield was transported to the hospital, where she died 10 days later. He added in the statement that the new lawsuit against Murdaugh was filed in an attempt to seek answers about the circumstances of the death.
Murdaugh, a prominent attorney and member of one of South Carolina’s most prestigious legal families, is also suspected of orchestrating his own Sept. 4 shooting in an attempt to leave his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, $10 million in life insurance money. Murdaugh survived after being shot in the head; he later received treatment at an area hospital.
Authorities are still investigating the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
You can watch "Alex Mudaugh. Death. Deception. Power." here or on Peacock starting January 6.