In early September, Bland discovered that Satterfield’s sons — the only two beneficiaries in her estate — hadn’t received a dime in their mother’s $4.3 million wrongful death settlement against Alex Murdaugh. In the last four weeks, Bland has moved quickly in his quest to get that money back for his clients and hold the individuals involved accountable.
Satterfield was the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper and nanny for more than two decades. She died on February 26, 2018 after a “trip and fall” incident at the Murdaugh’s Colleton County home — the same property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found murdered on June 7, 2021.
Quickly after Bland and his law partner Ronald Richter filed a lawsuit against Murdaugh and his co-conspirators, the two attorneys uncovered a paper trail of evidence that showed how Alex Murdaugh led the pack in a scheme to steal millions of dollars in Satterfield’s 2019 wrongful death settlement.
On Thursday, Murdaugh was charged with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses for the misappropriated funds in the Satterfield settlement.
“I’m both professionally and personally relieved,” Bland said. “I was relieved professionally as a lawyer.. I think our system again was stretched, but it didn’t break. It was definitely a good day for our state because a lot of questions were being asked about how this guy (Murdaugh) can remain free when for two weeks now we have essentially proved this crime.”
Bland said he was relieved for his clients — Satterfield’s two sons Brian Harriott and Tony Satterfield.
After Gloria died, Murdaugh recruited his best friend Cory Fleming to sue him on behalf of her estate and convinced Gloria’s sons to sign over their personal representative rights to Chad Westendorf so that Fleming wouldn’t be legally obligated to tell the Satterfield family what was going on with the settlement, according to Bland.
The $4.3 million settlement that was signed by Judge Carmen Mullen in 2019 was not entered into the public record — a major violation of court procedure. Satterfield’s sons were left in the dark about the $2.9 million they were allocated until they mustered up the courage to go see a lawyer, who introduced them to Bland.
“Personally, for my clients, I think that it was rewarding for them to be able to see that victims do count,” Bland said. “A man that they had revered and had great respect for, and viewed as family will have to start being accountable for his actions.”
Bland believes that more charges should be filed against Alex Murdaugh in the near future — and some could be federal. On Friday, FITSNews founding editor Will Folks exclusively reported on efforts by attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin to negotiate a backdoor plea deal with federal prosecutors in the hopes of keeping Murdaugh out of state prison – and landing him in the far-friendlier confines of a minimum-security federal correctional facility.
“I absolutely believe that before this is over that the federal government will bring charges,” Bland said. “But I do believe he’s going to get charged with a whole host of mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud and failure to file income taxes.”
Last week, Bland published a bombshell motion that appears to show evidence stacked up against Alex Murdaugh, his two friends Cory Fleming and Chad Westendorf, his family’s law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), and Fleming’s law firm Moss, Kuhn & Fleming for their alleged roles in the disgraceful $4.3 million secret settlement for Gloria Satterfield.
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He also told FITSNews he thinks possibly other co-conspirators will be charged as well.
“I don’t think he’s gonna be the only one, I don’t believe that…..they’re not looking at others and potentially people at the bank and his law firm and everywhere else,” Bland said “I think everything is on the table. I think Alex is going to squeal like a stuck pig. I think that’s the only currency he has left.”
Last week, less than 24 hours after FITNews published this story that asked where the accountability is in this case, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Fleming from practicing law.
“In three weeks, with the help of the press and in our representation, we proved that we can solve a crime… and people are starting to be held accountable,” Bland said. “Last week it was Cory Fleming losing his license temporarily and this week it’s Alex.”
Documents filed this week show how Westendorf — and Palmetto State Bank — allegedly played important roles in the scheme. As a personal representative of an estate, Westendorf was in charge of managing the money of the estate and distributing the checks from the settlement. He was also obligated to fulfill his duties as an officer of the court.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to persuade — with the power of the people — that Palmetto State Bank needs to disassociate from Chad Westendorf and Independent Banks of South Carolina needs to do that as well.”
Westendorf is the vice president of Palmetto State Bank and president of the Independent Banks of South Carolina. On Friday afternoon, FITSNews heard from multiple sources who said that Westendorf was no longer employed in the latter capacity, however his attorney – Tommy Lydon – said late Friday his client remained in both posts.
Bland also wants PMPED to own up to their alleged involvement in the case as well.
“The Murdaugh law firm needs to treat the Satterfields exactly how they treated their other clients who were victims of Alex’s fraud,” Bland said.
Bland said his clients are feeling “tremendous betrayal” from Alex Murdaugh — and they want answers about their mother’s death.
The Satterfield family was told that Gloria tripped on the steps at the Murdaugh’s home on February 2, 2018. They were told the Murdaughs’ dogs tripped her, which resulted in her sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
Despite some documents stating that the accident took place in Hampton, South Carolina, the incident allegedly took place at the Moselle property in Colleton County — the same property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found murdered on June 7, 2021.
On September 15, SLED opened an investigation into both Satterfield’s death and her death settlement.
“They want to believe that their mother died accidentally,” Bland said. “But then.. it’s a stark reality that this is a really bad person. Alex Murdaugh is a really, really, really bad person. That’s the bottom line. That’s the tough pill to swallow…. There’s no bottom to him.”
Alex Murdaugh — who is still a person of interest in the June 7 murders of his wife and son according to his own attorney — is scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Richland County court for his bond hearing. He will be transported from Orange County Jail to a South Carolina jail.
For the first time in his life, Alex Murdaugh will have to spend the weekend in jail.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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