Alex Murdaugh returns to court to face 100-plus financial charges

  • Alex Murdaugh was convicted in March of killing his wife, son
  • He is also facing over 100 charges for finance-related crimes
  • Murdaugh's attorneys say he plans to plead guilty to financial charges

BEAUFORT, S.C (NewsNation) — Alex Murdaugh, the disbarred South Carolina attorney who was sentenced to life in March for the murders of his wife and youngest son, was back in court Thursday to face separate financial charges.

Murdaugh is facing more than 100 state and federal financial charges ranging from insurance fraud to tax evasion. At Thursday’s hearing a date of Nov. 27 was set for the first trial over his alleged financial crimes.

The first round of charges alleges that he stole insurance payments meant for the family of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. According to The Post and Courier, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters told the judge Satterfield’s case is the state’s top priority.

Satterfield died in 2018 after falling down a set of stairs on Murdaugh’s property. Although Murdaugh had conversations with Satterfield’s family about settling with the insurance company, they never saw a penny of that $4 million.

A second round of charges alleges Murdaugh stole from a family friend named Jordan Jinks.

Murdaugh’s defense team argued in court Thursday that everything needs to be settled in the murder trial first.

While Murdaugh was convicted and sentenced, his defense attorneys last week claimed that a court clerk pressured them into returning a guilty verdict. According to a motion by the defense, Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill told jurors to not be “misled” or “fooled” by Murdaugh’s testimony, with documents alleging she talked regularly to jurors as a result of her desire to profit off the trial.

Hill maintained her innocence and denied all allegations to the Hampton County Guardian newspaper, although she declined further comment.

After making these claims, Murdaugh’s team requested an evidentiary hearing and a new trial.

On Thursday, Murdaugh defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said it would be hard to get a fair trial within a year of the initial murder trial’s conclusion, which gained much attention across mainstream and social media.

“Where are you going to get a jury? Mars?” Hartpootlian asked Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman. Newman answered that the indictments were issued across many counties.

Still, Jim Griffin, another of Murdaugh’s attorneys, told reporters outside court that they plan to file a formal plea agreement Friday. Murdaugh has agreed to plead guilty to all pending financial charges, Griffin said.

During the murder trial, Murdaugh took the stand, and admitted in court that he did steal money from people.

Two other defendants are also involved. One of them, Cory Fleming, was sentenced Thursday in state court to 20 years in prison on charges that he conspired with Murdaugh to steal money from Satterfield’s family and two of the ex-lawyer’s clients, The Post and Courier reports. Fleming’s 10-year state prison term will run consecutively with another 10-year state prison term.

In court, Fleming apologized to the families and profession whose trust he said he betrayed.

“Despite knowing this firsthand, I made some very bad decisions and broke the law,” Fleming said.

Fleming was already sentenced to 46 months on related federal changes, and his time in federal jail is expected to count toward his 20-year term, according to the newspaper.

Eric Bland, the attorney representing Satterfield’s estate, said that he’s not “sitting here gloating” that Fleming got a 20-year sentence — but at the same time, “justice isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always kind.”

“But justice was done,” he said to reporters. “And I feel like my clients, even though they have forgiven Cory Fleming, and they forgiven Alex, believe it or not, they haven’t forgotten. And I will not forget.”

Russell Laffitte, the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank, had a status hearing Thursday on similar charges that he helped Murdaugh steal nearly $2 million from clients. Lawyers have yet to agree on a trial date over Laffitte’s more than 21 state charges. Lafitte was previously sentenced to seven years in federal prison on charges related to wire and bank fraud.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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