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Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm has filed a lawsuit against him for allegedly secretly stealing money from the company and its clients and depositing it into a bank account in his name.
The lawsuit, filed by Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) and obtained by Oxygen.com, alleges that Murdaugh “was converting client and PMPED money to his own personal use” — although the exact scope of the alleged scheme is unknown.
“In the filing, the firm alleges that Murdaugh, a former partner, developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the firm and to clients to a fictitious entity,” the law firm said in a statement to Oxygen.com.
PMPED believes the scheme went on for “several years” as Murdaugh allegedly submitted “false documentation to the firm and to clients” to hide the stolen funds, which he had funneled into a series of fraudulent bank accounts.
He’s also accused of using the firm’s assets in an unauthorized manner, without the consent of his former partners.
“The filing seeks discovery on where the ill-gotten funds went and if any of it is hidden away,” the firm said.
Jim Griffin, one of Murdaugh’s attorneys, issued a response to the lawsuit on Wednesday, calling it a “sad” development in the attorney's continued legal troubles.
“This is a very sad development. Alex holds every member of the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, Detrick law firm in very high esteem,” Griffin said in the statement obtained by Oxygen.com. “He has pledged his full cooperation to the firm.”
Murdaugh was arrested last month on charges of insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud after the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division accused him of orchestrating his own shooting in a botched assisted suicide attempt.
Just one day after Murdaugh was asked to resign from his law firm, investigators say Murdaugh hired Curtis Edward Smith to shoot him in the head along Old Salkehatchie Road.
Murdaugh had allegedly wanted the Sept. 4 shooting to look like a murder so that his surviving son, Buster, could cash in on a $10 million life insurance policy, but he survived the ordeal.
His attorneys said at the time that Murdaugh had struggled with an addiction to opioids for “the last 20 years” and that Smith “took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life.”
That came months after Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were found dead at the family’s Islandton hunting lodge on the night of June 7.
Murdaugh called 911 to report that he had come home to find the bodies near the dog kennels on the property. The investigation into the deaths remains ongoing and no charges have been filed to date.
The recent lawsuit against Murdaugh alleges that while working at PMPED—a firm his great grandfather started in 1910—he created a Bank of America account in the name of “Alexander Murdaugh d/b/a Forge,” a fictious entity which he used to convert money owed to the firm and its clients for his own personal use.
The lawsuit alleges that Murdaugh “was able to covertly steal these funds by disguising disbursements from settlements as payments to an annuity company, trust account or structured settlement for clients or as structured attorney’s fees that he had earned when in fact they were deposited into the fictitious account at Bank of America.”
He was able to devise the scheme using his own understanding of the law firm’s operations, the suit states.
The law firm became aware of the scheme on Sept. 2 when they were trying to track down a fee owed to PMPED from a case Murdaugh had worked with another law firm.
The firm had received a check for the expenses incurred during the course of the litigation but not a check for the fees owed to them and questions about the payment “failed to produce a satisfactory explanation,” the lawsuit said.
That same day they found a check on Murdaugh’s desk from the other law firm which had been a partial payment of the fees, but the check was made payable to “Alexander Murdaugh, Esq.,” rather than the firm itself and allegedly been deposited into his personal account.
The discovery prompted an investigation into Murdaugh’s activities and the firm’s leadership discovered other cases that were part of the alleged scheme.
According to the lawsuit, leadership at the law firm confronted Murdaugh on Sept. 3 and he “admitted to converting monies owed to PMPED and its clients to his own personal use.”
He was asked to resign and tendered his resignation the same day.
The law firm addressed the controversy on its website, saying they were “distressed by the tragic situation” involving Murdaugh and regretted that it had brought negative publicity to PMPED.
“We were shocked and dismayed to learn that Alex violated our principles and code of ethics,” they wrote. “He lied and he stole from us. No member of PMPED was aware of Alex’s scheme. When we learned he betrayed our trust, we requested his resignation immediately.”
They went on to say that no one at the firm had been aware of his addiction to opioids.
Despite the negative publicity surrounding the case, they assured their clients that they planned to continue to work “with the same diligence and professionalism as prior to the discovery of Alex’s misdeeds” at the firm.
“The funds taken by Alex will not affect current or future PMPED operations,” they said. “No client of PMPED will suffer a financial loss as a result of Alex’s misconduct.”
The firm also made reference to a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Gloria Satterfield’s family.
Satterfield had worked for the Murdaugh family as a housekeeper for over 20 years when she died on Feb. 26, 2018 after a trip at the family’s home, according to The State.
Murdaugh had allegedly encouraged Satterfield’s two sons to file a legal claim against him, but the sons say they never received any money from the $4.3 million settlement in the case.
It's now alleged in a lawsuit filed on their behalf that Murdaugh diverted more than $3.5 million in death settlement money meant for her sons in a scheme to steal their money.
“If these reports are accurate, we are stunned at what occurred,” PMPED wrote. “It’s important for everyone to know that PMPED did not represent Alex in that case. His insurance company hired counsel to represent him.”
The firm concluded by saying they “will continue assisting law enforcement and other authorities in efforts to find the truth” about Murdaugh’s alleged misdeeds.
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