Federal officials on Wednesday named convicted South Carolina killer Alex Murdaugh and one of his alleged accomplices, Cory Fleming, in a scheme involving the theft of some $4 million in insurance proceeds.
Fleming has also agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to public records filed Wednesday morning.
Fleming, Murdaugh’s former law school classmate and a suspended Beaufort lawyer, was charged with violating federal fraud laws in connection with a scheme involving the unlawful diverting of insurance proceeds to Murdaugh and away from the rightful owners.
Murdaugh was named throughout the eight-page charging document, but only Fleming had formal charges lodged against him.
The scheme in the charges brought against Fleming involves insurance proceeds from the death of Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh family’s former housekeeper who died in a 2018 fall at the family’s Colleton County estate.
Murdaugh is likely to be formally charged later Wednesday, multiple sources with knowledge who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The State newspaper.
The federal charges naming Murdaugh, one of South Carolina’s most notorious criminals, and his longtime friend, are the latest events in the Murdaugh crime saga, which for nearly two years has been marked by dramatic twists and turns.
It was not immediately clear why federal authorities are naming Murdaugh and Fleming at this time as participants in a federal scheme. Both have been indicted by state law enforcement officials, though neither has yet been tried.
Murdaugh and Fleming have already been indicted for allegedly violating various state financial and anti-fraud laws by a state grand jury under the control of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Many of the alleged details in the new charges appear to be similar to those details alleged in state grand jury indictments.
On the state charges, Fleming is set to go on trial Sept. 11 in Beaufort for his part in an elaborate alleged scheme, whereby he and Murdaugh took advantage of the death of the Satterfield to apply for and receive $4.3 million in insurance proceeds.
No trial date has been set for any of the state’s financial crimes charges against Murdaugh.
Alex Murdaugh in SC prison for double-murder
Murdaugh is already serving two consecutive life sentences in state prison for the June 2021 double murders of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul. Murdaugh, who initially told police he found their bodies at the dog kennels on the family’s Colleton County estate, Moselle, on June 7, 2021, and claimed he didn’t know who killed them.
The trial started in January in Walterboro, stretching six weeks until early March, when Colleton County jury took three hours to find Murdaugh guilty of two counts of murder.
Right before he was sentenced to prison by Judge Clifton Newman, Murdaugh claimed he was innocent, which Newman rejected.
An unusual feature of the murder trial was testimony by approximately 10 state witnesses, who said Murdaugh had committed numerous financial crimes, though Murdaugh had not yet been found guilty of any of those charges.
Normally, evidence in criminal trials is confined to the charges at hand.
But S.C. Attorney General’s lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters, convinced Newman allow financial crimes testimony, arguing that the looming threat that his financial crimes were going to be exposed was the motive that led Murdaugh to kill his wife and son to divert attention from himself to a mysterious murder.
“To properly evaluate motive, the jury will need to understand the distinction between who Alex Murdaugh appeared to be to the outside world — a successful lawyer and scion of the most prominent family in the region — and who he was in real life only he fully knew — an allegedly crooked lawyer and drug user who borrowed and stole wherever he could to stay afloat and one step ahead of detection,” Waters in a pre-trial filing last December.
“The clouds of (Murdaugh’s) past were gathering into a perfect storm that was going to expose the real Alex Murdaugh to the world — and which would mean facing real accountability for his life,” Waters wrote.
Descriptions of those alleged financial crimes had been revealed in numerous indictments over the past two years.
Since November 2021, Murdaugh has been named in 20 indictments containing 101 separate charges against him in allegations that he fleeced numerous victims of $8.7 million. The victims included his law partners, his clients, his friends and even his own brother.
Various charges include money laundering, breach of trust (embezzlement) and computer crimes. Indictments said he used two accounts at two banks — Bank of America and Palmetto State Bank — to carry out his schemes.
Other state grand jury indictments charge him with evading state taxes of $619,391 that he was supposed to pay on unreported income of more than $9 million of unreported income from years 2011 to 2021.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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