Alex Murdaugh's longtime friend admits helping to steal $4 million wrongful death settlement
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A longtime friend of convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh admitted Thursday he helped his old college roommate steal more than $4 million meant for a wrongful death settlement after Murdaugh's housekeeper died in a fall.
Cory Fleming, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in federal court. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced at a later date.
After Murdaugh's maid, Gloria Satterfield, died following a fall at the family's home, Murdaugh convinced Satterfield's sons to hire Fleming as their lawyer, saying they could help get the family money for a wrongful death settlement.
Fleming got $4.3 million from Murdaugh's insurers, according to an indictment.
But Fleming and Murdaugh never sent any money to Satterfield's sons, instead splitting it among themselves, prosecutors said.
Satterfield's sons later hired different attorneys who have managed to get millions for them.
Fleming's plea came a day after federal prosecutors charged Murdaugh with 22 financial crimes for stealing money from the Satterfield family as well as other clients and committing bank and wire fraud.
Murdaugh's lawyers said in a statement he is cooperating with federal investigators and suggest the charges will be resolved with a guilty plea.'
Murdaugh, 54, is currently serving a life sentence without parole in protective custody at an undisclosed state prison after being convicted in March of the shooting deaths of his 22-year-old son, Paul and 52-year-old wife, Maggie, at their home. Prosecutors said he decided to kill them because his millions of dollars of theft was about to be discovered, and he was hoping their deaths would buy him sympathy and time to figure out a cover-up.
The once prominent South Carolina attorney is also awaiting trial on around 100 other state charges including insurance fraud, tax evasion and theft.
Fleming is the second person affiliated with Murdaugh's schemes to be convicted in federal court. In November, Murdaugh's banker friend, Russell Laffitte, was convicted of six wire and bank fraud charges.
Prosecutors said Murdaugh and Laffitte worked together to take settlement money out of clients' accounts.
Laffitte is appealing and has not been sentenced.