South Carolina lawyer misappropriated $4m after housekeeper’s mysterious death, attorney says

·2 min read
Alex Murdaugh has been charged with attempting  to arrange his own murder in an alleged insurance fraud scheme  (Hampton County Detention Center)
Alex Murdaugh has been charged with attempting to arrange his own murder in an alleged insurance fraud scheme (Hampton County Detention Center)

Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina attorney charged with attempting to arrange his own murder following the shooting deaths of his wife and son, has now been accused of embezzling millions of dollars in a separate case.

A lawyer for the family of Gloria Satterfield, a longtime housekeeper for the Murdaugh family who died in 2018, says his clients successfully sued Mr Murdaugh for a large settlement after her death – but never received a penny of it.

That settlement was for $505,000. Ms Satterfield’s two sons, Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday demanding that Mr Murdaugh finally pay it. But according to the sons’ lawyer, Eric Bland, new information shows they’re owed much more than that.

“We’ve learned since the lawsuit was filed that the amount that has been unaccounted for and misappropriated is $4m,” Mr Bland told Fox Carolina News. “And we’re told that those monies were misappropriated either in whole or in part by Alex Murdaugh.”

Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers have said he had nothing to do with Ms Satterfield’s death, and that an insurance company determined it was an accident. According to Mr Murdaugh, Ms Satterfield slipped and fell while working at his house, and died of a brain injury weeks later.

“Everybody took the word of Alex Murdaugh because when Gloria Satterfield fell down the stairs she had a traumatic brain injury, so she never woke up,” Mr Bland told WCBD. “She was in a coma for three weeks in the hospital and died so was never able to explain.”

According to Mr Bland, Mr Murdaugh advised Ms Satterfield’s sons to sue him for damages, and arranged for a lawyer friend of his to represent them. Then he admitted liability in Ms Satterfield’s death, Mr Bland says, which allegedly led his insurance companies to pay out “large amounts of money.”

But according to Mr Bland, none of that money made its way to his clients.

“The $4m was paid, and my clients got none of it,” the lawyer said.

On the same day as Mr Satterfield and Mr Harriott filed their lawsuit, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced that it was opening a criminal investigation into Ms Satterfield’s death.

The agency said it was doing so for two reasons. First, SLED said it had uncovered new information while investigating the deaths of Mr Murdaugh’s wife and son, who were found dead of gunshot wounds in June. And second, they received a letter from the Hampton County coroner, who said Mr Murdaugh’s story didn’t add up.

“The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed,” coroner Angela Topper wrote. “On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Murdaugh’s lawyer for comment.

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