State Grand Jury announces five indictments, including 27 charges, against Alex Murdaugh

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – A State Grand Jury on Friday announced five indictments, totaling 27 counts, against suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh.

The new indictments are in connection to multiple fraudulent financial transactions, including some connected to other pending cases against Murduagh.

Attorney General Alan Wilson said the indictments charge Murdaugh, 53, with four counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, seven counts of obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, seven counts of money laundering, eight counts of computer crimes, and one count of forgery.

BREAKDOWN OF INDICTMENTS

Bamberg County:

In the first indictment out of Bamberg County, AG Wilson said Murdaugh is charged with obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, value $10,000 or more (four counts); money laundering, value $100,000 or more (three counts); and computer crime, value $10,000 or more.

The indictment stems from an alleged March 10, 2021 scheme to defraud victims of and launder $792,000.00.

According to the indictment, “Murdaugh convinced an attorney from another firm with which he was associated on a case to write a $192,000 check for Murdaugh’s share of the legal fees to him personally rather than following the normal practice of writing the check to Murdaugh’s law firm.”

Notably, Murdaugh told the attorney that he was “going to structure in fees in part because of possible civil liability in a case involving a boat crash in which a young woman died.”

Presumably, Murduagh was referring to the wrongful death suit brought against him by the family of Mallory Beach, who died in a 2019 boating accident in which Murdaugh’s son, Paul, was allegedly driving the boat drunk when he crashed.

Murdaugh used the funds “for expenses including but not limited to credit card payments, family expenses, and checks written to family, associates, and a law partner.”

Orangeburg County:

In the second indictment, out of Orangeburg County, Murdaugh was charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or more; money laundering, value $100,000 or more; computer crime, value $10,000 or more; and forgery, value $10,000 or more.

The indictments come from part of an alleged January 29, 2021 scheme to defraud victims of and launder $125,000.00.

According to the indictment, Murdaugh convinced an injured highway patrolman for whom he served as council to sign over an insurance company settlement “by telling him that the money could not be disbursed until his litigation was finished.”

Murdaugh then forged the victim’s signature to approve the disbursement of the funds, and deposited the funds into his own shell account.

Colleton County:

In the third indictment, out of Colleton County, Murdaugh was charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or more; and computer crime, value $10,000 or more.

The indictments stem from an alleged August to September 2016 scheme to defraud victims of and thereafter launder $70,000.

In this case, he convinced a client to sign over a structured settlement check meant to compensate the client for his injuries to Forge, which Murdaugh told the client would then disburse the funds from the Peters Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED) Law Firm account.

Instead, Murdaugh deposited the check into a shell account he created under the name of Forge.

Beaufort County:

In the fourth indictment, venued in Beaufort County, Murdaugh was charged with obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, value $10,000 or more (three counts); money laundering, value $100,000 or more (three counts); computer crime, value $10,000 or more (three counts).

The indictments arise out of an alleged scheme to defraud the Satterfield family of and thereafter launder $3,483,431.95, according to Wilson’s office.

Gloria Satterfield was the Murdaugh family housekeeper for over two decades before she died after an alleged trip-and-fall accident at the Murdaugh family home in 2018.

Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons that he would help them through the legal process in obtaining death settlement funds from Murdaugh’s insurance providers. Instead, Murduagh funneled the multi-million dollar settlement into the fake Forge account.

Allendale County:

In the fifth indictment, out of Allendale County, Murdaugh was charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or more (two counts); and computer crime, value $10,000 or more (two counts).

Wilson’s office said the indictments arise out of an alleged October 7, 2015 scheme to defraud victims of and thereafter launder $383,056.14.

Murdaugh convinced a client to sign over a check that was supposed to be compensation for the client’s injuries to Forge, which Murdaugh said would then be disbursed by PMPED. Instead, the money went into the fake Forge account and was used by Murdaugh for personal expenses.

WHAT IT MEANS:

In total, Murduagh is charged in alleged schemes to defraud victims and launder $4,853,488.09, according to AG Wilson.

Obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, value $10,000 or more is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500.

Money laundering, value $100,000 or more is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount at issue, whichever is greater.

Computer crime, value $10,000 or more is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Breach of trust with fraudulent intent, value $10,000 or more is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine in the discretion of the court.

Forgery, value $10,000 or more is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine in the discretion of the court.

Murdaugh is still being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia on offenses related to a scheme to commit suicide and defraud an insurance company after being previously indicted by a Colleton County Grand Jury.

He was suspended from practicing law in the state by the South Carolina Supreme Court on September 8, 2021, after his former practice alleged he misappropriated funds.

Attorneys representing the estate of Gloria Satterfield, a family housekeeper who died after an accidental fall at the Murdaugh home, released a statement saying the Satterfield family is grateful to law enforcement for their “continued efforts in the investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Gloria Satterfield and the egregious breaches of trust and theft committed upon her sons.”

Attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter went on to say, “the additional indictments brought today in connection with the crimes committed against Gloria and her sons as well as apparently others are welcome, long overdue and were appropriately brought. While justice can appear at times to move slowly, when the dam breaks, justice flows like a mighty river – and in this case a mighty river is needed to cleanse all that has occurred.”

They said while Murdaugh is entitled to his presumption of innocence and to his rights under the criminal process, “it seems the State Wide Grand Jury was as unimpressed with his opioid defense and other explanations given as we have been.  As always, we are steadfastly in the Satterfield corner and committed to seeing these matters to the end.”

A spokesperson for Murdaugh provided the following statement:

“We are not surprised by these new charges relating to Alex’s handling of client funds and law firm fees. We have made it clear that Alex regrets that his actions have diverted attention from solving the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.”

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