Lawyers say Murdaugh housekeeper’s heirs never received money after reportedly falling, dying in family home
Estate attorneys for the Murdaugh Family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterifield, Eric Bland and Ronny Richter discuss the investigation into her death and its aftermath on ‘The Story’Estate attorneys for the Murdaugh Family’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterifield, Eric Bland and Ronny Richter discuss the investigation into her death and its aftermath on ‘The Story’
The sons of Gloria Satterfield have asked a South Carolina judge in a new filing Monday for the civil detention of Alex Murdaugh until he hands over millions of dollars of insurance money he allegedly embezzled from them following the housekeeper’s mysterious trip-and-fall death at his home.
The motion filed Monday in Hampton County Common Pleas Court on behalf of Satterfield’s sons asks that Judge Carmen Mullen or another judge grant an order “for the arrest and detention” of Murdaugh under a South Carolina law that permits someone to be arrested without criminal charges in certain embezzlement scenarios, especially if that person has left the state.
Murdaugh was released on his own recognizance earlier this month, allowed to travel back to an out-of-state rehabilitation facility to treat a supposedly decadeslong opioid addiction. In a separate matter, he is charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report after allegedly plotting his own death so that his surviving son, 26-year-old Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
The botched Sept. 4 shooting happened days after the Hampton-based law firm PMPED asked for Alex Murdaugh’s resignation, alleging he misappropriated at least $1 million in funds from the practice founded by his great-grandfather.
Court documents submitted as exhibits Monday show that Mullen was the judge who on May 13, 2019, approved the settlement in Gloria Satterfield’s death. Lloyds, London Underwriters initially agreed to a $505,000 settlement. Other insurers, Brit Syndicates Ltd. and Nautilus Insurance Company, agreed to pay $4.3 million in exchange for the final release of liability coverage. Subtracting legal fees and other costs, Satterfield’s sons, Michael Anthony Satterfield and Brian Harriott, were entitled to $2.8 million.
Gloria Satterfield worked as a housekeeper and a nanny at the Murdaugh home for two decades. Alex Murdaugh allegedly told her sons that he was liable for her supposed trip-and-fall death at his home and told the sons to sue him.
(Brice Herndon Funeral Home/ AP)
But neither son has seen a dime, according to the filing.
Gloria Satterfield, a 57-year-old housekeeper and nanny who had worked for the Murdaugh family for two decades, died at the hospital on Feb. 26, 2018 – weeks after supposedly sustaining a head injury by tripping and falling over dogs and down the steps at the Murdaugh’s home in Colleton County. She never regained consciousness before her death.
After her funeral, Alex Murdaugh told Satterfield’s sons that their mother’s fall was his fault and that he would take them to an attorney so they could sue him. The sons were then introduced to Corey Fleming, whom they did not realize at the time was Alex Murdaugh’s close lawyer friend, former college roommate and godfather to his younger son, Paul Murdaugh.
As his lawyer, Fleming convinced Michael Satterfield to sign over his right to represent his mother’s estate to the vice president of Palmetto State Bank, Chad Westendorf, arguing Westendorf was better suited to handle any “business issues” that should arise, the filing says. After that, Gloria Satterfield’s sons never were informed of any settlement discussions, let alone a settlement being reached.
During an in-person hearing, Mullen allowed the $2.8 million to first be released to a bank representative – under the agreement that amount would later be paid to Satterfield’s sons.
“Judge Mullen trusted the lawyers who were to appear before her and had no reason not to trust them,” the filing says. “Judge Mullen was not told material facts about the proposed settlement and/or the Estate and was misled to believe that the beneficiaries of the Estate were fully informed.”
Alex Murdaugh later set up a bank account using the name “Forge” for “the purpose of creating the illusion that it was actually the structured settlement firm known as Forge Consulting, LLC out of Atlanta, Georgia,” the filing alleges. In fact, the account was exclusively owned and controlled by Alex Murdaugh. Fleming then issued a check to the Murdaugh “Forge” account in the amount of $2.8 million.
“Through this deception, Murdaugh was able to embezzle and/or fraudulently misapply the funds that were intended to be paid to Tony and Brian,” the filing says.
The attorneys representing Satterfield’s sons, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, also asked the court for a public evidentiary hearing into the matter, in which Alex Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf be called in to speak under oath.
Neither Bland nor Richter returned Fox News Digital’s requests for comment Monday.
Richter previously told Fox News Digital that Satterfield’s sons were “scared” and “shell-shocked” after Alex Murdaugh was allowed to return to the out-of-state rehabilitation facility without GPS monitoring. The lawyer described how it took courage for Satterfield’s sons to take public action against the Murdaughs, a powerful family whose prosecutorial influence in the rural region stretches back three generations.
During his bond hearing, Alex Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, told the judge that his client has struggled with an opioid addiction over the past two decades and that the addiction has only worsened since the murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and their 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh, in June. Alex Murdaugh dialed 911 to report coming home to find the two shot dead at the family’s hunting estate in Colleton County. No one has been named as suspects or arrested in the double homicide.
Jim Griffin, another attorney representing Alex Murdaugh, told WSAV on Monday that his team is requesting a preliminary hearing in the criminal case – though no date for such hearing has been set in Hampton County court.
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