Murdaughs

Murdaugh Saga: Cory Fleming Gets Four Years In Federal Prison

Another of Alex Murdaugh’s co-conspirators goes down …

by WILL FOLKS and DYLAN NOLAN

Beaufort, South Carolina attorney Cory Fleming – who reached a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud earlier this year – saw the hammer fall on him Tuesday afternoon in Charleston, S.C.

U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel sentenced Fleming to forty-six months in federal prison – nearly four years – for his “amazingly egregious conduct” in a scam that robbed convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s insurers of nearly $4 million. Fleming was also a cog in a criminal conspiracy that stole settlement funds from the mother of a deaf quadriplegic.

With good behavior, Fleming could see roughly 200 days shaved off of his sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.

“There must be consequences for this kind of conduct,” Gergel said during the sentencing hearing in Charleston. “It is painful to do, but we must uphold the rule of law.”

Fleming entered the packed courtroom in downtown Charleston at precisely 1:00 p.m. EDT.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in Beaufort today,” Gergel quipped, remarking at the size of the crowd.

Fleming’s attorney, Deborah Barbier, argued passionately on behalf of her client, saying he had acknowledged his guilt and had submitted letters of support to the court “written by people of all walks of life.”

(Click to View)

Deborah Barbier (Will Folks/ FITSNews)

“You can tell a lot about a lawyer by how he treats non-lawyers and court staff,” Barbier said. “For decades, Mr. Fleming has treated all those who work in our court system with kindness and professionalism.”

“Cory was like a parent to many of his children’s friends” Barbier continued. “I wish that you knew Cory is much more than this gross error of judgment. We are all better than the worst thing we have done.”

As for his judgmental error, Barbier said Fleming “owned it, stepped up and came forward,” adding that her client “did not put the government through litigation and a lengthy trial.”

When it was his turn to speak, Fleming did, in fact, “own it.”

“I mades some terrible decisions and broke the law,” he told Gergel. “Today I offer the court no excuses. I place the blame on my own shoulders.”

That comment represented a stark contrast from the evasiveness displayed two weeks ago by convicted fraudster Russell Laffitte during his sentencing hearing on various Murdaugh-related convictions. As he did at Laffitte’s hearing, Gergel made it clear he believed Murdaugh was the leader of the conspiracy.

Gergel called Murdaugh the “conductor” and his co-conspirators “people who joined the crew (and) were rewarded for it.”

Murdaugh’s best friend and the godfather to his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, Fleming proceeded to apologize to his victims, including the family of former Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield. Satterfield, 57, passed away at Trident Medical Center in North Charleston, S.C. on February 26, 2018 – more than three weeks after allegedly tripping and falling off the front porch of the Murdaugh family’s now-infamous hunting property, known locally as Moselle.

(Click to View)

Alex Murdaugh and Cory Fleming (File)

Fleming conspired with Murdaugh to misappropriate settlement funds paid out in connection with a fraudulent wrongful death claim made against Murdaugh’s insurance providers.

Fleming also was charged with conspiring with Murdaugh to steal money from a settlement reached behalf of Pamela Pinckney, the mother of deaf quadriplegic Hakeem Pinckney of Yemassee, S.C. Hakeem Pinckney was another one of Alex Murdaugh’s former clients. He died under questionable circumstances just four days after a multi-million dollar settlement was reached in his case.

“I’m grateful for the ability to address the Satterfields and the Pinckneys,” Fleming said. “You deserved a lawyer who would act in your best interest.”

Speaking specifically to Pamela Pinckney, Fleming said “I betrayed you as a client and as a friend.”

“To both the Satterfields and the Pinckneys, I am incredibly sorry,” he said.

In a rare acknowledgment of the institutional damage done by this scandal, Fleming told Gergel “the public’s confidence in the judicial system has eroded as a result of this case.”

That’s for sure …

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“I’ve taken a long hard look in the mirror,” Fleming told the court.

Eric Bland, an attorney for the Satterfields, credited Fleming – saying he “stepped forward during a time when others wouldn’t step forward.”

Pamela Pinckney also addressed the court, telling Fleming she was “still broken” and “still in disbelief.” However, Pinckney looked directly at Fleming and told him “I forgive you.”

Pinckney’s attorney, Justin Bamberg, was not quite as willing as Bland to give credit to Fleming.

“I think he regrets what he did,” Bamberg said. “But do I think that he is remorseful for what he did to the Satterfields or to Pamela? I do not. If a coyote is caught in a trap it will still bite you – it will only stop biting once it realizes the only way out of the trap is for someone to let him out.”

In addition to the federal charges, Fleming is also facing nineteen state charges related to the Satterfield scheme. Indeed, at the time the federal charges were filed, state and federal prosecutors had a heated exchange – with lead state attorney Creighton Waters reportedly accusing the feds of “copying” the work of his team.

Fleming was taken into the custody by U.S. Marshals following the sentencing hearing – which occurred four weeks before he is set to stand trial in Beaufort County, S.C. on state charges. As for those charges, Gergel indicated he took them into account in setting Fleming’s sentence – noting the state had its own “agenda” in seeking to punish him.

Gergel added he intended to write a letter about the case to S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman, who is presiding over all of the state cases involving Murdaugh and his co-conspirators.

(Click to View)

Federal prosecutors led by Emily Limehouse leave the U.S. district courthouse in downtown Charleston, S.C. on Tuesday August 15, 2023 (Dylan Nolan/ FITSNews)

As she did two weeks ago, lead federal prosecutor Emily Limehouse spoke with reporters about the sentence after it was handed down. Limehouse worked this case – and the Limehouse case – along with assistant U.S. attorneys Winston Holliday and Kathleen Stoughton

“We think the 46-month sentence really reflects the seriousness of this offense and takes into account all the other factors that we argued to the court,” Limehouse said. “Today was tragic – the situation is tragic for all involved.”

Murdaugh has yet to stand trial and either the state or federal level on any of the financial crimes of which he stands accused. He admitted to most of the financial schemes involving Laffitte and Fleming when he testified in his own defense in February of this year at his double homicide trial in Colleton County, S.C. A Colleton jury found Murdaugh guilty of murdering his wife and younger son on March 2, 2023 – and he was sentenced the following day to two consecutive life terms in prison by judge Newman.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

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.

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7 comments

Hamlin O’Kelley Top fan August 15, 2023 at 5:56 pm

A good guy who did bad things… I agree with Mrs. Pinckney.

Reply
medmondsm Top fan August 15, 2023 at 8:18 pm

Most all of us have some good in us. Hell, even Alex Murdaugh has some good traits. But Cory Fleming is not “a good guy.” HE IS A CRIMINAL.

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VERITAS Top fan August 18, 2023 at 9:01 am

Apparently you don’t understand what “con artist” and “criminal” mean. Murdaugh, Laffitte and Fleming are skilled con artists and criminals. Ted Bundy was described as a “nice guy”. “Nice” people commit atrocities. Cory Fleming, with fake expressions of remorse, is not a nice guy. He’s sorry he got caught. And if they hadn’t gotten caught, they’d still be committing their crimes. What is wrong with you?

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Rakish Top fan August 16, 2023 at 9:54 am

Fleming was treated harshly compared to Laffitte by the same judge. I get it that as a client lawyer it is a worse professional lapse than the one count implies. There is still something unbalanced about the sentence of 4 vs 7 for Laffitte related to the charges, the lack of remorse and the very large $ settlement that lurks in the background of that case…

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stephen henry Top fan August 16, 2023 at 7:55 pm

I wasn’t there, but does anyone agree with me that Judge Gergel’s sentencing of Russell Lafitte and Corey Fleming might have been influenced by his opinion of Eric Bland ?

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VERITAS Top fan August 18, 2023 at 8:46 am

Another “handshake sentence” for yet another Murdaugh crime syndicate actor. Laffitte and Fleming should have each received 20-year minimum in federal prison. This is not anything close to the “hammer falling” — it’s a bad joke. Murdaugh and his co-conspirators took great advantage of a deeply embedded good ol’ boy system to lie, steal, cheat and con trusting people out of millions. They’ll get soft time. Justice is in broken bits in this country and this is proof.

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stephen henry Top fan August 18, 2023 at 3:18 pm

Because he’s human, Judge Gergel might have found it HIGHLY annoying that after relentlessly defending Greg Leon and portraying him at a “great human being” Eric Bland was in his courtroom telling the world that anything said about Lafitte or Fleming being “good guys” should be overlooked (and in fact demonized). I know I would have if I were in the judge’s robes.
Just saying. Just saying.

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