Disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh has been arrested in Florida, this time in connection to “misappropriated funds” from a years-old settlement with the children of his deceased housekeeper.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Mr Murdaugh has been charged with two new felony counts of “obtaining property by false pretenses.”
“Today is merely one more step in a long process for justice for the many victims in these investigations,” SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement. “I want to commend the hard work and dedication that our agents have shown over the last four months. They will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of those who were victimized by Alex Murdaugh and others.”
On Thursday, Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers neither confirmed nor denied the charges.
“Alex intends to fully cooperate with this investigation, as he has with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son,” the two attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said in a statement. “He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted from the efforts to solve their murders.”
Mr Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died in 2018 in what he said at the time was a “trip and fall accident” at his house. Ms Satterfield’s two sons then sued Mr Murdaugh, and in 2019 they won a large settlement – but according to their current lawyer, they never received any of the money.
In September this year, Ms Satterfield’s family sued Mr Murdaugh a second time. In October, their lawyer, Eric Bland, announced that the money – which he said amounted to $4.3 million – was finally making its way back to them, thanks to the cooperation of their previous lawyer, Cory Fleming.
In a statement, Mr Bland said that Mr Fleming – whom Mr Murdaugh himself had recommended to the Satterfield sons – “did the right thing” and arranged the return of the money.
“Mr Fleming and his firm agreed that the Estate will be paid back all legal fees and expenses Mr Fleming and his law firm received from the $4,300,000 they recovered for the Estate in connection with the claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Gloria Satterfield,” Mr Bland said. “Mr Fleming and his law firm maintain that they – like others – were victims of Alex Murdaugh’s fraudulent scheme.”
On Thursday morning, agents of SLED and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Mr Murdaugh as he was leaving a drug rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Florida. He is being held at Orange County Corrections, but may later be extradited back to South Carolina.
This is the second time Mr Murdaugh, a formerly prominent lawyer in South Carolina, has been arrested in the past month. On 16 September, he turned himself in to police in Hampton County after a series of bizarre and tragic events.
In June, Mr Murdaugh’s wife and son were shot dead. Then, on 4 September, Mr Murdaugh himself was shot, but survived. Less than two weeks later, after turning himself in, authorities say Mr Murdaugh admitted to arranging the second shooting as part of a $10 million insurance fraud scheme.
Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers say he has struggled with a decades-long addiction to drugs, and this played a role in his attempt at assisted suicide.
“For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids,” Mr Harpootlian said. “During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs. One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life, by shooting him in the head.”
The Independent has reached out to Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers for comment on the Florida arrest.