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Alex Murdaugh set up shell company called FORGE ‘to syphon $3.5m settlement for dead housekeeper’


Alex Murdaugh set up a fake firm called Forge to syphon off $3.5 million of the $4.3 million settlement money meant for his housekeeper who was mysteriously killed at his home, according to new legal documents. 

A motion filed Tuesday by attorneys for Gloria Satterfield’s family provides new details of how two large payouts from two separate insurers were allegedly redirected to what was essentially a PO Box in Hampton, South Carolina, instead of making their way to Satterfield’s sons Tony Satterfield and Brian Harriott. 

Two other defendants have been named in the civil suit – Murdaugh’s old college roommate Cory Fleming, who acted as a lawyer on behalf of Satterfield’s families.

Also accused is Chad Westendorf, Vice President of Palmetto State Bank. Murdaugh encouraged Satterfield’s sons to hire Westendorf to deal with ‘business matters’ he said would arise.  

The new motion, filed Tuesday, is now calling for Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirators to be held in contempt of court for violating the orders approving the settlement. 

Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf are accused of negotiating $4.3 million in payouts from Lloyd’s Underwriters and Nautilus Insurance Company – two insurance companies with which Murdaugh held policies.

They then allegedly sent more than $3.5 million of the funds to Murdaugh’s shell company Forge.  

On January 7 2019, Fleming allegedly received a $505,000 check from Lloyd’s Underwriters – one of the insurance firms Murdaugh had a policy with. The check is pictured above

 Satterfield’s sons were allegedly kept in the dark about both the settlements and court meetings and were not invited to any mediations.

According to the 69-page motion, Westendorf was appointed as the new personal representative of Satterfield’s estate on December 18 2018 – replacing her son Tony.

The very next day, Fleming filed a petition to get court permission to access a partial settlement in the wrongful death suit for $505,000 while reserving the right to pursue ‘additional insurance coverage that is applicable to this matter.’

Satterfield’s sons believe this settlement was agreed prior to the change in hands between Tony and Westendorf.

A check for this settlement was dated for December 4 2018 – two weeks prior to Westendorf’s appointment.

This partial settlement was approved by Judge Carmen Mullen but, the sons claim, they were never told anything about it. 

On January 7 2019, Fleming then allegedly received a $505,000 check from Lloyd’s Underwriters.

In March 2019, Fleming then secured an additional settlement from Nautilus Insurance Company to the tune of $3.8 million. The check was made payable to Westendorf as the estate representative and Fleming's law firm on April 18 (check seen above)

In March 2019, Fleming then secured an additional settlement from Nautilus Insurance Company to the tune of $3.8 million. The check was made payable to Westendorf as the estate representative and Fleming’s law firm on April 18 (check seen above)

 That same day, Fleming allegedly wrote a check for $403,500 to Murdaugh’s shell account Forge.

According to the suit, a company in Atlanta, Georgia, shares this name but in fact this check was sent to a PO Box address in Hampton at Murdaugh’s request. 

In March 2019, Fleming then secured an additional settlement from Nautilus Insurance Company to the tune of $3.8 million – which Satterfield’s sons again claim they had no knowledge of.  

Westendorf signed a conditional release which stipulated the funds would be paid directly to him in April 2019. 

Documents included in the motion reveal the check was made payable to Westendorf as the estate representative and Fleming’s law firm on April 18.

In total, the two insurance companies had paid out $4.305 million. 

Minus legal fees and expenses, Satterfield’s family were entitled to $2.765 million in a settlement which was approved by Judge Mullen on May 13. 

That same day, Fleming allegedly wrote a check for $403,500 to Murdaugh's shell account Forge (seen above)

That same day, Fleming allegedly wrote a check for $403,500 to Murdaugh’s shell account Forge (seen above)

Minus legal fees and expenses, Satterfield's family were entitled to $2.765 million in a settlement which was approved by Judge Mullen on May 13. The check above reveals Fleming sent a check for $2.96 million to Forge that day

Minus legal fees and expenses, Satterfield’s family were entitled to $2.765 million in a settlement which was approved by Judge Mullen on May 13. The check above reveals Fleming sent a check for $2.96 million to Forge that day

On October 5 2020, Fleming and Murdaugh filed for a dismissal of the settlement which Mullen approved - on the basis that an agreement had been reached by all parties. The next day - October 6 - Fleming wrote a check to Forge for $168,000 (above)

On October 5 2020, Fleming and Murdaugh filed for a dismissal of the settlement which Mullen approved – on the basis that an agreement had been reached by all parties. The next day – October 6 – Fleming wrote a check to Forge for $168,000 (above)

A check submitted with the motion reveals Fleming sent a check for $2.96 million to Forge that very same day.

Then, on October 5 2020, Fleming and Murdaugh filed for a dismissal of the settlement which Mullen approved – on the basis that an agreement had been reached by all parties. 

The next day – October 6 – Fleming wrote a check to Forge for $168,000. 

Fleming also paid himself $666,000 in legal fees. He was awarded $1.435 million in fees but allegedly paid the remainder to Murdaugh.

Westendorf did not appear to pay himself for his involvement. Rather, he ‘allowed all of the settlement proceeds to be misapplied by Fleming and Murdaugh.’ 

The motion does not suggest Mullen was involved in the scheme.

The judge took part in two meetings with the alleged fraudsters where she approved the settlements.

The court documents claim Mullen was ‘misled’ to believe Satterfield’s sons were aware of the settlements and that the money would be distributed in accordance with the information presented to her.  

She ‘had no reason not to trust’ Fleming and Murdaugh who she had worked with in the past, while Satterfield told her ‘he agreed with the settlement after carefully considering all of the facts of circumstances of the claims’, the documents state.  

Yet, according to the documents, Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf ‘lied to the court’ and the sons were unaware of any settlement being reached.

Further, none of the settlement approvals were properly filed through the Hampton County Clerk of Court, the documents claim.   

Alex Murdaugh set up a shell company named Forge to syphon off $3.5 million of the $4.3 million settlement money meant for his housekeeper who was mysteriously killed at his home, according to new legal documents. Murdaugh in court last month

Alex Murdaugh set up a shell company named Forge to syphon off $3.5 million of the $4.3 million settlement money meant for his housekeeper who was mysteriously killed at his home, according to new legal documents. Murdaugh in court last month

At the same time, millions of dollars was also allegedly going missing from Murdaugh’s law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), according to a separate lawsuit filed against Murdaugh by his ex-partners.

The new motion calls on Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf to testify under oath about their handling of the settlement.

A motion filed Tuesday by attorneys for Gloria Satterfield's family provides new details of how funds were allegedly redirected from Murdaugh's insurance companies to a company called Forge - which was essentially a PO Box in Hampton, South Carolina - instead of making their way to the family. One of the checks above

A motion filed Tuesday by attorneys for Gloria Satterfield’s family provides new details of how funds were allegedly redirected from Murdaugh’s insurance companies to a company called Forge – which was essentially a PO Box in Hampton, South Carolina – instead of making their way to the family. One of the checks above 

Gloria Satterfield, 57, (pictured) had been the Murdaugh housekeeper for around 25 years when she died following a mystery 'trip and fall' inside the Murdaugh family in 2018

Gloria Satterfield, 57, (pictured) had been the Murdaugh housekeeper for around 25 years when she died following a mystery ‘trip and fall’ inside the Murdaugh family in 2018

Satterfield, 57, had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she died following a mystery ‘trip and fall’ inside the Murdaugh family home back in February 2018.    

The complaint alleges Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf then defrauded the family out of a $4.3 million wrongful death settlement – which they said they had not received a dime of.

Last month, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) also launched a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s mystery death in what marks the latest twist in the Murdaugh family saga which gained national attention when Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were shot dead at the family’s hunting lodge on June 7. 

Now, four months on, their deaths remain a mystery with no arrests made and no suspects or persons of interest named.    

Murdaugh was then arrested last month after he allegedly faked a drive-by shooting – paying his alleged drug dealer to shoot him in the head so his surviving son Buster would receive a $10 million life insurance payout. 

The plot was foiled and Murdaugh confessed to authorities blaming a 20-year opioid addiction which has left him in financial ruin. Both him and his alleged hired hit have been charged over the incident.     

Palmetto State Bank banker Chad Westendorf who became the personal representative of the Satterfield estate

Murdaugh's close friend Corey Fleming who became the Satterfield's attorney

The new motion is calling on Murdaugh, attorney and Murdaugh’s close friend Corey Fleming (right), and banker with Palmetto State Bank Chad Westendorf (left) to testify under oath about their handling of the settlement

 

This week, the Satterfields’ attorney Eric Bland requested Mullen give a videortaped deposition over her approval of the $4.3 million settlement payments. 

Bland then withdrew the request Wednesay saying it was ‘not necessary at this time.’ 

On Friday, Bland announced that Satterfield’s family had agreed to settle with Fleming for an undisclosed sum.  

The deal includes all legal fees and expenses associated with the settlement that the lawyer had recovered.

The insurance carrier for Fleming and his law firm also agreed to pay to Satterfield’s estate their full policy limits of insurance.

Meanwhile, Westendorf returned his Personal Representation fee of $30,000 to the Satterfield estate Tuesday.  

The settlements were approved in court by Judge Carmen Mullen (above) who the documents also say was 'misled' by the alleged fraudsters

The settlements were approved in court by Judge Carmen Mullen (above) who the documents also say was ‘misled’ by the alleged fraudsters

The damming accusations – and the checks included in the motion – provide the most detailed account to date of the alleged scheme to defraud the Satterfield family out of the wrongful death suit. 

Murdaugh is also accused of using fake bank accounts to siphon funds for years from PMPED and its clients.

A new complaint filed Wednesday by PMPED alleges Murdaugh ‘developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the firm and to clients to a fictitious entity.’  

Murdaugh resigned last month at the request of the firm, which his great-grandfather founded in 1910, after millions of dollars were found to have gone missing. 

At the time, the law firm released a statement saying Murdaugh ‘lied and he stole from us’. 

His resignation came one day before he was arrested and charged over the alleged assisted suicide scheme. 

Murdaugh was shot in the head along a remote road in Hampton County on September 4 and was airlifted to hospital where he survived after suffering only superficial injuries.

At the time, Murdaugh claimed he had been the victim of a drive-by shooting as he changed a tire by the side of the road.  

Murdaugh at his bond hearing in September over his alleged botched fake hitman scheme. He also faces a lawsuit from his former firm PMPED, which is also accusing him of stealing money from the company and its clients

Murdaugh at his bond hearing in September over his alleged botched fake hitman scheme. He also faces a lawsuit from his former firm PMPED, which is also accusing him of stealing money from the company and its clients

He checked himself into rehab days later for opioid addiction and resigned from PMPED in shame over allegations of embezzling millions to pay for his addiction. 

But, his story about the shooting soon fell apart, and police said he confessed to arranging the hit.

Murdaugh’s alleged accomplice in the case Curtis Edward Smith then admitted Tuesday to being present at the shooting and disposing of the firearm, police said.  

This saga came three months after Paul and Maggie’s still unsolved double murder. 

Questions have swirled that the motive for the slayings could be tied to one of three mysterious past deaths – including Satterfield – connected to the Murdaugh family.  

At the time of his murder, Paul was awaiting trial for the 2019 death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed as a passenger in a boat he crashed while allegedly heavily intoxicated.  

Police have also investigated the family for possible ties to the 2015 death of gay teen Stephen Smith, which was ruled a hit-and-run, though no suspects have ever been named or charged. 

SLED has also reopened the investigation into Smith’s death in the wake of Paul and Maggie’s murders. 

The Murdaugh saga all began back on June 7 when Maggie (second left) and Paul (far left) were found shot dead

The Murdaugh saga all began back on June 7 when Maggie (second left) and Paul (far left) were found shot dead 

The Murdaugh family hunting lodge where the double murders took place. No arrests have been made in the case

The Murdaugh family hunting lodge where the double murders took place. No arrests have been made in the case 

Alex Murdaugh’s former firm claims disbarred lawyer funneled stolen money from clients and the law office into a fake bank account for YEARS, lawsuit reveals  

South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh used fake bank accounts to siphon funds for years from his former firm and its clients, according to a new lawsuit filed against the disgraced and disbarred attorney by his ex-partners.

The firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick alleges in a court filing that Murdaugh ‘developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the firm and to clients to a fictitious entity.’

The firm’s suit is the latest in the twisted saga of the once prominent family that involves unsolved murders and mystery deaths, alleged fraud claims, drug addiction and a botched suicide-by-hitman. 

It comes a month after Murdaugh resigned at the request of his firm, which his great-grandfather founded in 1910, after millions of dollars were found to have gone missing from its coffers. 

The law firm filed a complaint Wednesday in Colleton County Court in South Carolina, which reads, ‘PMPED has determined that Alex 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 fictious account at Bank of America.’

The firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick alleges in a court filing that Murdaugh (above in court last month) 'developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the firm and to clients to a fictitious entity’

The firm of Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick alleges in a court filing that Murdaugh (above in court last month) ‘developed a systematic scheme in which he diverted funds owed to the firm and to clients to a fictitious entity’

It continues to say that Murdaugh, ‘used firm assets in an unauthorized manner and without the consent or knowledge of his other shareholders to further his scheme to defraud.’

The firm’s lawsuit is seeking damages ‘for the costs of this action’ and is calling for Murdaugh to reveal where the stolen money went.

Murdaugh’s attorney, Jim Griffin, said in a statement: ‘This is a very sad development. Alex holds every member of the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, Detrick law firm in very high esteem. He has pledged his full cooperation to the firm.’

In a statement released on its website last month, PMPED addressed the controversy swirling around Murdaugh and wrote, ‘PMPED is a robust firm with skilled, experienced attorneys who represent our clients with a fierce commitment to obtaining justice. We were shocked and dismayed to learn that Alex violated our principles and code of ethics.’

It continues, ‘He lied and he stole from us. No member of PMPED was aware of Alex’s scheme. When we learned he betrayed our trust, we requested his resignation immediately. We have yet to speak to anyone who was aware of his addiction to opioids.’

Within a day of his ousting from the firm, Murdaugh was charged with insurance fraud and filing a false police report, stemming from a bizarre incident in which he claimed to be the victim of a roadside shooting.  

Family murders, deaths, drug addictions, thefts and arrests: The riddles facing investigators who’ve now charged Alex Murdaugh 

2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies

Smith was found on the side of the road. 

Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith (above)

Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith 

Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head 

His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay 

Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation. 

Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen 

Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’. 

In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up. 

He mentioned Smith’s death.  

2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies

Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies

Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies

Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house

The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault. 

Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit. 

Satterfield was only 57 when she died. 

She left behind a husband and children. 

Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.  

2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh

Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019

Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019 

Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night. 

He had been released on bond.  

Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.

One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’. 

That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her 

June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered 

The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina. 

Alex Murdaugh says he found them  at the home. 

The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.  

Paul, 22

Margaret, 52

Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge 

Alex's father Randolph Murdaugh III died 'peacefully' at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead

Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead 

June 10 2021:  Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home

September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds

The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts 

September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by. 

He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother

September 6: Alex resigns from his law firm

The South Carolina legal scion releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab 

He said: ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’ 

September 16: Alex turns himself into police over insurance fraud scheme

Murdaugh handed himself over to cops in connection to insurance fraud scheme where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.

He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.  



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