A backdoor legal maneuver by disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh to prioritize settlement claims associated with lawsuits filed against him is being challenged in court by the two attorneys tasked with watching over his assets.
As news director Mandy Matney first reported yesterday, Murdaugh – the man at the heart of the still-unspooling ‘Murdaugh Murders’ true crime saga – signed papers earlier this week “confessing” to a judgment of $477,000 sought against him by John E. Parker, one of his former partners at the erstwhile influential Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) law firm.
“Confessing judgment” means a defendant is acknowledging the amount owed as a “valid and enforceable debt” — and authorizing the Palmetto State’s court system to enroll a judgment against him in that amount.
A day earlier, on Thursday, Matney reported exclusively that Murdaugh had confessed judgment in a lawsuit filed by his brother Randy Murdaugh IV for a total of $90,000 in unpaid debt.
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As Matney noted, Murdaugh’s “confessions” are likely to further stoke speculation that the 53-year-old lawyer is “attempting to keep assets in the hands of his family and former law partners — prioritizing their ability to recover funds over other victims of his alleged financial crimes.”
This is of particular interest given some of Murdaugh’s interesting … associates.
Needless to say, these legal moves have been viewed with considerable skepticism by those closely following this story. Well, except for the Palmetto State’s mainstream media, that is … which continues to either miss the boat completely on its coverage or (worse) provide fluff pieces in praise of Murdaugh’s ethically challenged defense attorneys.
Who is paying attention? Attorneys John T. Lay Jr. and former U.S. attorney Peter McCoy – who were appointed just four days ago by S.C. circuit court judge Daniel Hall as Alex Murdaugh’s receivers (i.e. the people in charge of his assets while he remains the focus of multiple criminal inquiries and civil suits).
Hall’s ruling came just two weeks after another South Carolina judge denied Murdaugh’s bond for a pair of criminal charges related to the Gloria Satterfield case. Those charges stem from an investigation by South Carolina attorneys Eric Bland and Ronald Richter — who uncovered a shocking paper trail showing how Murdaugh allegedly stole $3.6 million from Satterfield’s grieving family in her death settlement.
Satterfield was the Murdaugh’s family nanny and housekeeper for a quarter of a century. She died during a suspicious trip-and-fall at Moselle, the familly’s sprawling hunting complex that straddles the Salkehatchie River in Colleton and Hampton counties.
Satterfield’s death – and the fiscal chicanery which followed it – is the focus of an ongoing investigation by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which is currently probing no fewer than seven criminal cases related to Murdaugh, his powerful family and the law firm it founded in Hampton, S.C.
Among those cases? An investigation into the June 7, 2021 murders of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. Alex Murdaugh claimed to have discovered the bodies of his wife and youngest son at Moselle.
“Paul Murdaugh was reportedly killed by a pair of shotgun blasts – one to the chest and another which struck his arm and head,” I reported at the time, citing my network of law enforcement and prosecutorial sources.
This information has since been publicly confirmed by health officials as the cause of Paul Murdaugh’s death.
Five months later, no arrests have been made in connection with the Moselle slayings.
Law enforcement and prosecutorial sources familiar with the double homicide inquiry quickly identified Alex Murdaugh as a ‘person of interest‘ in connection with the murders of his family members – which has since been confirmed by one of his own lawyers.
In appointing Lay and McCoy as Murdaugh’s receivers, Hall granted them “broad powers to not only lock up Alex’s and his son Buster’s assets, but to sue for the recovery of those assets as well,” Matney reported.
“This is a clear message that the justice system has had enough of Alex Murdaugh,” Bland said following the ruling. “Enough of the games. Enough of the lawyer machinations that he wants to employ.”
And when Murdaugh attempted his backdoor move to “confess” judgments totaling $567,000 to his brother and former law partner, Lay and McCoy sprang into action.
In a terse, three-page motion submitted Friday – one day after Murdaugh’s latest “confession” became public – Lay and McCoy asked Hall to issue an “emergency order” which would block the enforcement of the backdoor legal move.
The two lawyers noted in their filing that their status as co-receivers in the Murdaugh case gives them “exclusive power and authority” (emphasis original) over Murdaugh’s assets and also allows them to “manage all matters related in any way” to those assets “to the express exclusion of any other persons.”
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Allowing a court to execute either of the “confessions” would violate that authority, Lay and McCoy (above) noted, while at the same time denying them the opportunity to “investigate such claims and … the authenticity and propriety (or lack thereof)” of Murdaugh’s moves in an effort to determine whether they “should be set aside as fraudulent.”
The motion also noted that Lay and McCoy are “currently addressing time-sensitive investigation, collection and security issues related to” Murdaugh’s assets – which would, again, underscore suspicion that Murdaugh, his family members and potentially his former law partners are collaborating in an effort to protect his assets.
This news outlet has been doing a deep dive into Alex Murdaugh’s properties, incorporations and business connections – including some troubling links to a suspected drug smuggler.
We have also been doing similar deep dives related to partners at his former law firm.
Stay tuned for much, much more on this web of intrigue very soon …
THE FILING …
(Via: S.C. Fourteenth Circuit)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, in addition to having lots of kids he has LOTS of hats (including that classic “Block C” University of South Carolina lid pictured above).
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