Alex Murdaugh’s accomplice takes plea deal and agrees to cooperate with FBI in dead housekeeper theft case
Alex Murdaugh’s accomplice and friend Corey Fleming is now cooperating with the FBI over the convicted killer’s scheme to steal millions of dollars from his dead housekeeper’s family.
Fleming, a longtime friend and law school classmate of the disgraced legal scion, accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors this week over his involvement in Murdaugh’s financial fraud schemes.
He appeared in federal court in South Carolina on Thursday where he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
At the court hearing, Fleming confessed that he had taken part in one of Murdaugh’s financial schemes – and admitted that he knew what he was doing when he did so.
Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh orchestrated a financial fraud scheme which included stealing almost $4.3m from the estate of Gloria Satterfield and its insurance carriers.
Satterfield was the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died in a mysterious “trip and fall” accident at the prominent family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate in South Carolina in 2018 – the same property where Murdaugh shot dead his wife Maggie and adult son Paul three years later.
Following her death, Murdaugh recommended that Satterfield’s sons hire his friend and fellow attorney Fleming to represent them in bringing a wrongful death claim against him, so that they could collect from his homeowner’s insurance policies.
The insurance companies ultimately settled the estate’s claim for more than $4m – two payments of $505,000 and $3.8m.
Murdaugh and Fleming then stole the settlement money for themselves and the housekeeper’s sons didn’t get a dime.
Much of the stolen money was funneled through a fake “Forge” bank account which sought to imitate the legitimate and totally unrelated business Forge Consulting.
In accepting the plea deal, Fleming admitted that he helped Murdaugh steal the insurance money meant for Satterfield’s sons and has agreed to cooperate with the FBI and US Attorney’s office in the case.
He has also agreed to submit to polygraph tests and to turn over his law licences in South Carolina and Georgia.
He faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced at a later date. He was released Thursday on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
He is also facing separate state charges over the Satterfield case.
Ronnie Richter, an attorney representing the Satterfield family, welcomed Fleming’s guilty plea.
“This was a good day for justice because this is the first time anyone associated with the Satterfield case has pleaded guilty to anything,” he said.
Fleming’s plea deal comes the same week that Murdaugh was indicted on a slew of new charges over their scheme.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office announced on Wednesday that a federal grand jury had returned a 22-count indictment against the 54-year-old disgraced legal dynasty heir, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
The convicted killer was already awaiting trial on more than 100 financial crimes charges over a decade-long multi-million-dollar fraud scheme where Murdaugh stole millions from his law firm and legal clients – a scheme he confessed to orchestrating when he took the stand at his murder trial.
But, now he has been hit with a further 22 charges for what prosecutors describe as three separate schemes to steal money from personal injury clients he represented through his law firm.
As well as the scheme with Fleming, prosecutors allege that Murdaugh ran a second scheme from at least September 2005 to September 2021, where he allegedly routed and redirected clients’ settlement funds into his own pocket including by directing his law firm colleagues to pay the funds directly into his personal account.
In the third scheme, Murdaugh and his banker Russell Laffitte allegedly conspired from July 2011 to October 2021 to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
Laffitte, who was CEO of Palmetto State Bank at the time, acted as Murdaugh’s personal banker and as a custodian or conservator for some of his law firm clients. Laffitte then conspired to defraud those clients, with the two men diverting the money to themselves.
Laffitte was convicted in November of financial fraud charges in connection to Murdaugh’s alleged white collar fraud schemes.
Murdaugh faces up to 30 years in prison on the highest charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the new indictment. His other financial charges already amount to more than 700 years in prison if convicted.
Even without the financial charges, Murdaugh will already spend the remainder of his life in prison after he was found guilty on 2 March of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul on the family’s Moselle property back on 7 June 2021. Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison the day after the verdict.
Satterfield, who worked for the family for more than 20 years, was found at the bottom of the steps leading into the family’s home.
She never resumed consciousness and died from her injuries three weeks later on 26 February.
At the time, Murdaugh claimed that she had tripped over the family’s dogs and hit her head, and her death was regarded as an accidental fall.
However, her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural” and no autopsy was ever carried out.
Questions have been swirling around Satterfield’s death for the past few years as the string of deaths, stolen money and corruption surrounding Murdaugh came to light.
In September 2021, an investigation was reopened into her death and investigators said they planned to exhume her body.
Satterfield’s death isn’t the only mystery death tied to the South Carolina legal dynasty.
A homicide investigation has also been opened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of a road in Hampton County.
The openly gay 19-year-old had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But Smith’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.
At the time of his murder, Paul was also awaiting trial for the boat crash death of Mallory Beach.