HAMPTON, S.C. (WSAV) – A new lawsuit filed against Alex Murdaugh in Hampton County claims the former attorney led a scheme to steal millions from the family of his former housekeeper.
“You can’t run from the truth and in this case, the truth is stranger than fiction,” said Eric Bland, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of Michael “Tony” Satterfield and Brian Harriot, the children of Gloria Satterfield.
Satterfield was a longtime housekeeper for the Murdaugh family who died in 2018 after reportedly tripping over dogs and falling down a flight of stairs.
The lawsuit claims a multi-million dollar insurance settlement that was supposed to go to Satterfield’s family instead went into Murdaugh’s pockets.
Attorney Corey Fleming, his law firm, Moss, Kuhn and Fleming, P.A., Palmetto State Bank, and Chad Westerdorf are co-defendants named in the suit.
In the suit, Bland says the scheme started soon after Satterfield’s death when Murdaugh told her sons they should sue him to get the insurance money.
Murdaugh allegedly told them he had a great lawyer from the firm Moss, Kuhn, and Fleming to use. What Murdaugh didn’t tell the family was Fleming is his former college roommate, best friend, and godfather to his son Paul.
Fleming said, in accordance with South Carolina law, the family would need a personal representative to deal with the survival claim and wrongful death claim.
While family members could have been the personal representative, Fleming chose Chad Westerdorf, of Palmetto State Bank, instead. Fleming, Murdaugh, and Westerdorf allegedly had a previous business relationship.
They made the claim against Lloyd’s of London insurance — Alex Murdaugh telling the insurer there was “no defense” to the claim and the claim “must be paid.”
There was an original settlement the Satterfield family did not know about or agree to for $500,000.
The suit claims Fleming and MKF received their $166,000 in legal fees. The Satterfield family got nothing.
Documents now show the settlement was much larger. A total of $4.35 million. Of that, $2.76 million was supposed to go to the Satterfield family.
“Where did that money go?” Ashley Banfield asked Bland on her NewsNation show Tuesday.
“It went to Alex Murdaugh,” said Bland.
“Corey Fleming and Murdaugh worked together and they wrote a company out of Atlanta on that check called Forge,” he continued. “It was sent to a dummy P.O. box. Alex Murdaugh opened up a bank account under the name of Forge. The check was sent to a P.O. Box he got the check, he cashed it and he walked away with $2.7 million.”
“A defendant who is being sued to walk away with $2.7 is unheard of,” Bland said. “It’s illegal. The law enforcement agencies are looking into this. I will chase everybody who had something to do with this and make them accountable.”
The settlement statement from May 13, 2019, shows it was signed off on by Hampton County Judge Carmen Mullen. It does not have any signs of marks from the clerk of court and was apparently not filed into the court record.
“You cannot get approval for this without an open hearing, a transcript, something that was filed of record,” said Bland. “All this was done in darkness. It was done outside the public sunlight on this. I’ve never seen it.
“We have found the smoking gun. We have proven that $2.7 million of the $4.3 million in settlements was not paid to our clients.”
Bland commended the courage of the Satterfield family to be willing to “take on” the powerful Murdaugh family. But he knows this civil lawsuit is just part of the investigation.
“Now they have to worry about how did their mother die. What happened? Who had a hand in that?” Bland wondered. “They were told and led to believe she died after tripping over some dogs and falling down the stairs but obviously Alex Murdaugh’s credibility is zero at this point.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced it is reopening the investigation into all the circumstances surrounding Satterfield’s death.
Forge Consulting released a statement Tuesday saying it had “no knowledge or involvement of the alleged inappropriate conduct of Alex Murdaugh.”
“Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Murdaugh, and possibly others working with him, leveraged the Forge Consulting name and reputation by establishing a bank account titled ‘Forge’ without our knowledge or consent,” the statement continued.
Murdaugh is facing charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and making a false 911 call in connection with his attempted suicide earlier this month. He allegedly asked Curtis Smith to shoot him so his son could collect the insurance money.
Murdaugh is out on bond and is currently at an out-of-state rehabilitation clinic.