Less than $2 million sits in a receivership fund established to compensate victims of Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced former South Carolina attorney, convicted murderer and admitted fraudster who will soon stand trial for more than a hundred financial crimes. More than two dozen victims suffered losses totaling more than $26 million tied to Murdaugh’s various fleecings – but less than a tenth of that amount is available to compensate them.
The co-receivers appointed to identify and liquidate Murdaugh’s assets have proposed a means of distributing funds to parties with verifiable claims. In a new status report published with the Hampton County, S.C. clerk of court‘s office this week, they explain how much money is in the receivership – and what portion they hope to retain for attorneys’ fees.
The current amount of receivership funds available for disbursement totals $1.756 million. The co-receivers collected a total of $2.153 million however some expenses and co-receivers’ attorney fees have already been paid out of the fund to the tune of $408,153.58. They are currently requesting $242,295.75 in fees and $10,998.42 in expenses.
The liquidation of Murdaugh’s 401(k) paid a portion of his defense costs in the murder trial in March – resulting in approximately $425,000 going to the receivership.
Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin have asked the court for $160,000 in attorney fees out of this same pot of money – to subsidize their work on Murdaugh’s appeal – but have been repeatedly denied. Receivers say any efforts to recoup this money are invalid because Murdaugh agreed not to file objections or appeals related to his 401(k) liquidation.
Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and alleged fraudster from Hampton, S.C., was found guilty of the graphic 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the conclusion of a six-week trial in Walterboro, S.C. The jury deliberated for only a few hours before returning its verdict. On March 3, 2023, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences.
In addition to the state charges he is still facing, Murdaugh was hit with nearly two dozen federal fraud charges two-and-a-half months ago.
In order to free up some of Murdaugh’s assets, co-receivers negotiated approved settlements with Palmetto State Bank and the estate of Maggie Murdaugh. These actions resulted in the sale of Moselle and the payment of $443,173.89 to the receivership.
The co-receivers attempted to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by Nautilus Insurance Company against Murdaugh. However, an order by U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel determined they had no authority in that matter.
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This most recent filing (.pdf) indicated the co-receivers are actively engaged in discussions with the firm formerly known as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) over an outstanding civil claim against Murdaugh regarding damages sustained by the firm tied to its dealings with him. The receivership has a claim pending against the firm with regards to funds owed Murdaugh over cases involving his clients that are presently being settled – or will be settled in the future. Even so, there will not be enough money to satisfy Murdaugh’s debts so it is expected that the co-receivers will propose a resolution of this matter to the court in the days to come.
“Based on information reviewed to date, it is clear the sums the law firm has paid to victims of Mr. Murdaugh exceed any sums the firm may owe Mr. Murdaugh,” the co-receivers stated.
A few assets remain left to be liquidated – which is expected to happen within the next sixty days. It is anticipated that the sale of a 50 percent stake in various islands, one-sixth interest in a timber property, a war-eagle boat, a scout boat, and various guns will result in a collection of less than $100,000 to the receivership.
Heirs of the late Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield have a claim against Murdaugh – and a confession of judgment – for $4.3 million, which obviously cannot be resolved through the receivership alone. In May, Murdaugh and his attorneys attempted to undo that confession. This week, though, Bland Richter – the law firm representing the Satterfield family – announced circuit court judge Bentley Price had denied that motion.
“This is a resounding defeat for team Murdaugh once again,” attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter said in a statement. “They keep trying to victimize the Satterfields time and time again and each time the door gets slammed shut on them. Perhaps team Murdaugh will stop once and for all.”
Bland Richter has been able to secure settlements of more than $7 million for the Satterfield heirs. However, if left to share a portion of the receivership alone, many of Murdaugh’s other victims are unlikely to see full or fair recovery.
Readers are invited to decide for themselves who exactly profited from this inequitable attempt at righting the wrongs manufactured by Murdaugh.
THE STATUS REPORT …
(Via: S.C. Fourteenth Circuit)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.
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