Days after a South Carolina judge denied Alex Murdaugh bond, Mark Tinsley — the attorney representing Mallory Beach‘s family — filed a “bombshell” motion asking the court to lock up and recover Murdaugh’s assets.
Eric Bland, the attorney who found a paper trail of evidence showing how Murdaugh allegedly stole $3.6 million from Gloria Satterfield’s grieving family, said that he and Joe McCulloch, who is suing the Murdaughs on behalf of boat crash survivor Connor Cook, filed the same motions in their lawsuits today.
“Alex Murdaugh and those around him are playing checkers while the victims and their lawyers are playing chess,” Bland said of the sweeping motions.
Tinsley — who is representing Mallory Beach’s mother Renee Beach in the wrongful death lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh, his son Buster Murdaugh, and Parker’s gas station — filed the motion to lock up Alex Murdaugh’s assets on Friday.
For a reminder, in February 2019, a highly intoxicated Paul Murdaugh was allegedly driving his father’s boat when Mallory Beach was killed in a horrific crash near Parris Island, South Carolina. At the time of Paul Murdaugh’s death in June 2021, he faced three felony boating under the influence charges in that crash.
In the motion, Tinsley asks the court to appoint two outside parties — attorney John T. Lay Jr. and former U.S. attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr. — to have control over Alex and Buster Murdaugh’s assets, which is known as “receivership” in the court. This would give Lay and McCoy broad powers to not only lock up Alex and Buster Murdaugh’s assets, but to sue for the recovery of their assets as well.
“We hope that this will stop some of the wasting of assets that appears to be occurring and will begin the process of figuring out what has happened to date,” Tinsley told FITSNews.
The motion was filed two days after FITSNews founding editor Will Folks exclusively reported that Buster Murdaugh was spotted gambling at the blackjack table in Las Vegas just hours after his father was denied bond in a Columbia, South Carolina courtroom.
“Gambling the freshly liquidated assets,” an attorney told FITSNews this week.
Buster’s Vegas vacation was mentioned in Tinsley’s motion, among other suspicious financial moves made by the Murdaugh family recently. On September 15, Alex Murdaugh granted his power of attorney to his son Buster Murdaugh.
According to Tinsley’s motion, Buster was immediately granted “broad powers“ to perform all and every act and thing whatsoever”, including “to sell, assign, convey, pledge, mortgage and encumber… and generally manage, any and all property, both real and personal which [Alex Murdaugh] may own or acquire in the future from any source.”
Other financial moves by the Murdaugh family mentioned in the motion include:
- Alex/ Buster recently listed his $115,000 boat for sale.
- Buster “acted as Alex Murdaugh’s agent and executed a satisfaction of a mortgage with a face value of $970,354.00 on a 42 acre property located in Hampton and Colleton Counties.
- Alex Murdaugh’s share in a hunting club called Green Swamp in Jasper County sold on Oct. 1.
- The family’s home on Edisto Island is recently vacant and will be auctioned if back taxes aren’t paid.
At Alex’s bond hearing on Tuesday, prosecutor Creighton Waters with the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office not only told the court about how Alex Murdaugh allegedly stole $3.4 million from Gloria Satterfield’s wrongful death settlement — he also said that the disgraced lawyer transferred $300,000 to his father, former solicitor Randolph Murdaugh and gave more than $735,000 to himself.
“Questions remain as to where, how and to whom the balance of monies were transferred,” Tinsley said in the motion. “Certainly if Alex Murdaugh is capable of apparently diverting stolen assets in this manner, he is also capable of diverting legitimate assets.”
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In the motion, Tinsley emphasized that Murdaugh can’t be trusted considering his recent assisted suicide-for-hire plot and the Gloria Satterfield scheme he allegedly devised in 2018.
“These thefts and attempted thefts are crimes of moral turpitude,” Tinsley said in his motion.
The motion said that Alex Murdaugh “previously had significant wealth and assets generated by his partnership interest in the law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), and other business endeavors, inherited by him, and given to him,” which included:
- the 1,700-acre property known as Moselle (where Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found murdered in June and where Gloria Satterfield allegedly fell before she died in 2018)
- “various other properties” in Hampton and Colleton counties
- inherited assets from his father Randolph Murdaugh (who died three days after Maggie and Paul), his wife Maggie and his son Paul.
- Alex Murdaugh “has or will have an interest in the Randolph Murdaugh III Trust dated June 23, 2020.”
In Tinsley’s motion, he mentions that Murdaugh’s assets seem to be significant, despite what his attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin have claimed in court.
“Plaintiff knows and believes that Alex Murdaugh and his family had considerable assets and wealth, yet his lawyer represents that he is effectively broke,” the motion said. “A receivership is warranted and necessary to determine where these assets have been transferred to and the manner by which they were disposed of. A receivership is necessary to attempt to recover these assets.”
In the motion, Tinsley argued that the court should appoint Lay and McCoy as the receivers because Alex Murdaugh can’t be trusted.
“Alex Murdaugh has engaged in repeated dishonesty, deception and fraud,” Tinsley wrote in the motion. “He has shown that he will go to extraordinary lengths to misappropriate, steal, transfer or otherwise dispose of money in a manner that benefits him or his family.”
Bland said that in South Carolina, receivers are granted extremely broad powers over assets.
“A receiver can walk in any business or bank with an order and say ‘hand over everything you got, okay?'” Bland said. “This is essentially going to lock Alex to the point he won’t even be able to buy a cup of coffee.”
Because prosecutors discovered that Alex (allegedly) opened up the fake “Forge” account in 2015, the receiver will have the power to trace and recover all of the $3.4 million from the Satterfield settlement, according to Bland.
Attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin — who are currently representing Alex — were hired to defend Paul Murdaugh in the boat crash in either in March or April 2019, which would be soon after he transferred a large amount of the settlement money to his own account, according to prosecutors.
Bland said the receivers will be able to find out whether or not Griffin and Harpootlian were paid in fees from the Satterfield settlement.
“The receiver will unwind every single transaction that Alex has done since 2015 when he opened the account and he will go to the people who have money (from the settlement) and they will have to disgorge that money,” Bland said. “Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin should look long and hard on whether they want to start spending the attorney fees they are getting (from the Murdaughs).”
Obstruction of Justice?
Agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are currently pursuing at least six active criminal investigations involving disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, his influential family or the powerful local law firm it founded – Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED).
One of those investigations is focused on possible obstruction of justice in the 2019 boat crash.
In July, attorneys representing Connor Cook dropped a petition alleging that law enforcement conspired to shift the focus of the investigation away from Murdaugh prior to him being ultimately charged with three felonies in connection with the crash.
Paul’s father, Alex Murdaugh, and grandfather, former solicitor Randolph Murdaugh, appeared at the hospital ten minutes after Paul Murdaugh, according to witness statements.
According to multiple victims and hospital employees, Alex Murdaugh appeared to be more concerned with “orchestrating” a plan in the criminal investigation than he was about finding Mallory Beach.
In deposition, Connor Cook said that Alex Murdaugh approached him while he was getting X-rays at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, just hours after Mallory Beach went missing in the horrific boat crash. This statement is supported by a nurse’s affidavit.
According to Connor Cook, Alex Murdaugh told him “that everything was going to be all right” and that “I just needed to keep my mouth shut and tell them I didn’t know who was driving and he’s got me.”
Cook then told attorneys that Alex Murdaugh referred him to Cory Fleming — a longtime friend of the Murdaugh family who represented Gloria Satterfield‘s family in a wrongful death settlement against Alex Murdaugh in 2018.
In court documents, Cook said he felt he was being set up by Alex Murdaugh.
“Even in this matter, Alex Murdaugh is the subject of an investigation for obstruction of justice following the death of Mallory Beach; and there is no valid reason to trust that he has not already and/or will not in the future try to obstruct Plaintiff’s ability to recover damages from him or from Buster Murdaugh,” Tinsley said in the motion.
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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