Convicted double murderer Alex Murdaugh pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to fraud-related charges for allegedly cheating his late housekeeper’s estate and insurance providers out of nearly $3.5 million.
The disgraced South Carolina legal scion is accused of conspiring with another lawyer to steal ill-gotten settlement funds from an insurance company over the death of his family’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, 57, who suffered a fatal fall on his property in 2018.
Along with the scheme that left Satterfield’s sons high-and-dry following their mother’s death, Murdaugh, 55, pleaded not guilty to a total 22 financial fraud crimes, which include allegedly defrauding several other clients and partners.
Despite the plea, Murdaugh’s attorney’s told Magistrate Judge Molly H. Cherry on Wednesday that they anticipate that will change, suggesting a plea agreement may still be in the works.
Last week, defense lawyers Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian told the court Murdaugh was cooperating with federal investigators and that they anticipate the charges “will be quickly resolved without a trial.”
Prosecutors said Murdaugh, who was convicted in March of murdering his son and wife, orchestrated a scheme where he instructed Satterfield’s grieving sons to sue him so he could make a claim on his home insurance, which was purchased just months before the “trip and fall accident.”
He then represented the children in the case, but went on to claim a settlement was never reached. In reality, prosecutors said, Murdaugh pocketed the payments without their knowledge.
Satterfield’s children have since taken Murdaugh to court, with the family ultimately awarded more than $7.5 million over the payments that were allegedly stolen by Murdaugh.
Nautilus Insurance also sued Murdaugh and alleged co-conspirator Cory Fleming in May 2022 over the scheme, claiming the men lied about Satterfield’s death to prove liability and get a payout.
The case has unearthed a deeper mystery over Satterfield’s death, which was originally ruled to have occurred as a “natural cause.”
It was revealed earlier this month that Murdaugh had lied about key details involving Satterfield’s death, including that his family’s dogs caused her fatal fall.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is continuing to investigate Satterfield’s death after a coroner admitted her death should never have been ruled as “natural” as her injuries were “inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall.”
Along with the 22 fraud charges, Murdaugh also faces around 100 other state charges regarding insurance fraud, tax evasion, and stealing from clients and his own family’s law firm.
Murdaugh is currently being held at South Carolina’s McCormick Correctional Institution, where he is awaiting an appeal on his double murder conviction.
With Post wires
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