Crime: Suits: Fake account with similar name key to Murdaugh scheme

Alex Murdaugh Brushes Aside Claims That Maggie Murdaugh Considered Divorce Shortly Before She Was Killed

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina lawyer charged with trying to arrange his own death created a fraudulent bank account to steal money from an insurance settlement for his dead housekeeper and from his law firm, according to two lawsuits filed this week.

FILE - Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. For a century, the Murdaughs have quietly steered much of the legal world in this corner of the state, by running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm.  Then, in June, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed at the family’s sprawling estate. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son. (AP Photo/Mic Smith) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. For a century, the Murdaughs have quietly steered much of the legal world in this corner of the state, by running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm. Then, in June, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed at the family’s sprawling estate. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

An attorney and college friend of Alex Murdaugh said his longtime friend lied to him and misled him about how to handle the estate of Murdaugh's housekeeper, who he was told died in a fall at the family's home.

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Murdaugh's law firm, founded more than a century ago by his great-grandfather, said they also had no idea Murdaugh was diverting checks meant for the company that handles legal settlements to his own account by giving his account a slightly different name.

The PMPED Law Firm confronted Murdaugh on Sept. 3, demanding to be paid back, the law firm said in its lawsuit. The day after that encounter, Murdaugh called 911 from a lonely Hampton County road and claimed someone shot him while he was checking on a flat tire.

Police have charged him with insurance fraud, saying he arranged his own killing so his son could collect a $10 life million insurance policy, But investigators said the shot only grazed Murdaugh's head. And the lawyer for the man charged with shooting at Murdaugh has said he was trying to take the gun away from his suicidal friend when it fired.

Law Firm Sues Alex Murdaugh for Allegedly Stealing Money from Firm and Clients

  Law Firm Sues Alex Murdaugh for Allegedly Stealing Money from Firm and Clients South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh is accused of diverting funds into a fraudulent bank account . The lawsuit filed by Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick Wednesday alleged that Murdaugh "was able to covertly steal these funds by disguising disbursements from settlements as payments to an annuity company, trust account or structured settlement for clients or as structured attorney's fees that he had earned when in fact they were deposited into the fictitious account at Bank of America.

FILE - Alex Murdaugh sits during his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C.For a century, the Murdaughs have quietly steered much of the legal world in this corner of the state, by running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm.  Then, in June, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed at the family’s sprawling estate. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son.  (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Alex Murdaugh sits during his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C.For a century, the Murdaughs have quietly steered much of the legal world in this corner of the state, by running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm. Then, in June, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed at the family’s sprawling estate. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

Murdaugh's lawyers said he remains at an out-of-state rehab facility for an opioid addiction which they blame for his problems.

The missing money from the law firm and the housekeeper's estate are also part of two of six criminal investigations surrounding Murdaugh.

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It all began June 7 when Murdaugh found the bodies of his son, Paul, 22, and 52-year-old wife Maggie shot to death outside the family's home. No one has been arrested in that case, with tight-lipped state police neither saying they have a suspect or ruling anyone out. Murdaugh has adamantly denied any involvement with their deaths.

Gloria Satterfield was a housekeeper and nanny for the Murdaugh family for decades before she died in February 2018 after her sons were told by the Murdaugh family that she tripped over the family dog.

Murdaugh spoke to her sons at their mother’s funeral and convinced them to hire Corey Fleming as their lawyer for a wrongful death settlement with his insurance company. But he did not tell them Fleming was a longtime friend, old college roommate and godfather to at least one of Murdaugh’s sons.

Murdaugh and Fleming arranged nearly $5 million in settlements from insurance companies, but the sons never saw a dime and didn't know about most of the money, according to their lawsuit.

The money was supposed to go to a company called Forge Consulting, which handles legal settlements. Instead, Murdaugh had created a bank account called “Alexander Murdaugh d/b/a Forge” and asked the checks be written simply to “Forge” and deposited them into his fraudulent account, according to the lawsuit by Satterfield's estate.

Murdaugh friend has law license suspended in South Carolina

  Murdaugh friend has law license suspended in South Carolina COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court on Friday temporarily suspended the law license of an attorney who was a college friend of Alex Murdaugh and has been sued over his work on the disputed estate of Murdaugh's housekeeper. A different lawsuit said Cory Fleming didn't reveal his ties when Murdaugh recommended him to represent a man on board a boat that authorities said one of Murdaugh's sons was driving when it crashed and killed a teen. At the time, investigators weren't sure who was driving the boat. The interim suspension of Fleming's ability to practice law came in a one-page order with no additional details.

A joint statement by Fleming and Satterfield's lawyers said Fleming didn't know what Murdaugh was doing and was cooperating fully.

“Mr. Fleming trusted his close friend and colleague to deal with him truthfully and honorably, only to be misled and deceived in one of the worst possible ways,” the statement said.

Fleming acknowledged making mistakes and is repaying all the legal fees charged to Satterfield's estate and adding an unspecified settlement from the lawyer's malpractice insurance, the settlement said.

The suit by Murdaugh's law firm lays out a similar scheme where Murdaugh would take payments that were supposed to go to the consulting company and instead deposit them into his similar-sounding account.

PMPED Law Firm wants to find out if Murdaugh has been paid for any future books, appearances or other publicity surrounding his life, the firm said in a statement.

Murdaugh's lawyers issued a statement after the lawsuit saying he will cooperate and still holds in high esteem the firm founded by his great-grandfather and where his brother still works.

The lawsuit said the firm started investigating Murdaugh on Sept. 2 when it found a suspicious check on his desk. They confronted him about the fake bank account the next day and fired him. Murdaugh reported the shooting a day later.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

Lawyer: Murdaugh knows he'll go to prison for stealing money .
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The attorney for prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who discovered his wife and son dead at their home this summer, said Murdaugh is resigned that he will serve time in prison for stealing millions of dollars. But Murdaugh continues to insist he had nothing to do with their shooting deaths and regrets if his actions have hindered investigators trying to find who killed his wife, Maggie, and son Paul. “He hasBut Murdaugh continues to insist he had nothing to do with their shooting deaths and regrets if his actions have hindered investigators trying to find who killed his wife, Maggie, and son Paul.

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