Alex Murdaugh denied bond; judge orders psychiatric evaluation
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS/WCSC) - Former Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh was denied bond Tuesday after being accused of pocketing millions of dollars that were supposed to go to his former housekeeper’s family after her death.
Richland County Judge Clifton Newman presided over the hearing and said when making his decision he considered Murdaugh’s and the community’s safety among other aspects of the case.
“There is no amount of bond the court can set that can safely provide protection to Mr. Murdaugh, to the community, and satisfy the conditions of the statute in my mind,” Judge Newman said.
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Murdaugh is charged with two felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division says Murdaugh stole $3.4 million in insurance payments that were meant for the sons of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at the Murdaugh home in February 2016.
According to the state attorney, Murdaugh went to Satterfield’s children at Gloria’s funeral and said he would take the two sons to file a claim for them to get some compensation for the death of their mom.
Murdaugh pointed Satterfield’s children to a close friend of his, Cory Fleming. Fleming secured a settlement with Murdaugh that was supposed to result in millions of dollars going to the Satterfield estate, according to the lawyer for the office of the South Carolina Attorney General.
But instead, Murdaugh allegedly kept the more than $3 million dollar settlement and put it into an account he controlled. The plaintiffs say Murdaugh attached the name “Forge” to the account in order for it to appear to be connected to an insurance settlement firm.
“He had been carrying a $100,000 credit card balance for months. That gets paid off. He writes $300 and some odd grand to his father, he writes a check for $610 grand to himself, he writes a check for $125 grand to himself. Not a dime goes to this family back here,” said the lawyer for the Attorney General’s Office Creighton Waters said.
The state originally ask for the judge was to grant Murdaugh a $200,000 surety bond and give him a GPS monitor because they claim Murdaugh is a danger to himself and others.
“This is the tip of the iceberg, this is an ongoing investigation, and I think there is more to come as we review these records,” Waters said.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh is not a flight risk and “really has nowhere to go.” He added Murdaugh has had at least a decade of opioid addiction and underwent six weeks of detoxing and treatment. He asked the judge to set a public recognizance bond so Murdaugh could return to treatment.
“The Alex Murdaugh who is not hooked on drugs has lived a good life, a law-abiding life,” said Murdaugh’s attorney Jim Griffin.
Murdaugh is already out on bond on an insurance fraud charge after police say he tried to arrange his own death.
The June 7 shooting deaths of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, remain unresolved.
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