Murdaughs

Murdaugh Federal Update: Nautilus Cleared To Invoke RICO, Laffitte Fights Prison Term

The latest on the pending federal cases tied to convicted killer Alex Murdaugh …

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Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) claims against convicted killer Alex Murdaugh and his co-conspirators will become part of an ongoing federal lawsuit thanks to recent rulings from U.S. district court judge Richard Gergel. The case in question – dubbed the “Nautilus case” – originated with the allegation that funds paid by Nautilus insurance company to the estate of Gloria Satterfield were subsequently stolen by Murdaugh.

It was all part of a money-grabbing scheme orchestrated by the disbarred lawyer after his family housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, fell off the stairs of the main house at their hunting property – a fall which resulted in her death a few short weeks later. Approaching her sons at her funeral, Murdaugh convinced them to file a claim against him and his insurance company – and to hire attorney Cory Fleming to represent them.

Murdaugh eventually made off with $4.3 million in fraudulent proceeds from the settlement. The Satterfield heirs never received a dime of that money.

Nautilus recently asked the court for permission to amend its complaint to include racketeering violations – a motion Gergel granted. At the same time, he denied nine other motions – including multiple requests by defendant Palmetto State Bank (PSB).

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The bank – whose former president Russell Laffitte is scheduled to report to federal prison next month – had sought to have Gergel rule on the merits of the case without it going to trial (a.k.a. “summary judgment”). Attorneys for the bank also sought to have files related to the case sealed.

Gergel was having none of either request …

The veteran judge also denied an attempt by Murdaugh’s attorneys to attach the Satterfield heirs to the lawsuit – which could have made them liable to reimburse the insurance company for a portion of the money Murdaugh stole. One motion from Murdaugh’s attorneys was granted, though – a request to strike from the record a reply filed by attorneys for Bland Richter, who represent the Satterfield family.

Expect the bad blood between the Murdaugh and Satterfield attorneys to continue in future filings, though.

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THE CO-CONSPIRATORS …

While Cory Fleming is beginning a prison term of nearly four years for wire fraud following his sentencing in federal court this week, convicted fraudster Russell Laffitte is doing all he can to avoid – or delay – the start of his seven-year sentence on multiple convictions.

Fleming was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service at the conclusion of his sentencing hearing and is currently being held at the Al Cannon detention center in Charleston County as he awaits assignment to a federal prison facility.

(Click to View)

Cory Fleming (Al Cannon Detention Center)

At Laffitte’s sentencing hearing earlier this month, Gergel gave him the option of self-reporting to begin his prison sentence – although that hasn’t happened yet.

As this news outlet has previously reported, Laffitte’s lawyers are appealing his convictions – and filed a motion earlier this week stating they believe their client is “likely to obtain reversal of his convictions.” Originally scheduled to report to prison on September 14, 2023, federal prosecutors have agreed with Laffitte’s counsel to extend his reporting deadline to September 21, 2023.

Of interest? The latest filing from Laffitte’s lawyers notes that they are “reserv(ing) the right to request further extensions of Laffitte’s reporting deadline if necessary to allow (Gergel) to fully consider and rule on his motion for bail/ release pending appeal.”

In other words, Laffitte’s lawyers want him to remain a free man while the court considers the arguments to overturn his convictions.

That’s potentially a double-edged sword, however. In addition to his federal convictions, Laffitte is facing more than twenty state charges related to the Murdaugh saga. As for Murdaugh himself, he was criminally charged by the feds in late May of this year. That sparked an ongoing battle between state and federal prosecutors over the disposition of the charges against the three defendants.

With the federal case against him resolved, Fleming is set to stand trial on the state charges filed against him in September of this year, while Murdaugh is reportedly set to stand trial the following month.

Murdaugh admitted to most of the financial schemes involving Laffitte when he testified in his own defense in February at his double homicide trial in Colleton County, S.C. A 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 Clifton Newman.

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THE ORDER…

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher and author. Her 2007 book ‘Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal’ was the first to cover forever chemicals and their impact on communities – a story later told in the movie ‘Dark Waters’. Her investigative work has been featured in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world. Lyons also appears in ‘Citizen Sleuth’ – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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1 comment

stephen henry Top fan August 22, 2023 at 2:34 pm

Going forward, please add the word “allegedly” to all your references to Gloria Satterfield’s “fall”. Every time you suggest that Gloria’s “fall” and subsequent death resulted from an unfortunate “accident”, you are contributing (1) to Atty Eric Bland’s on-going obstruction of justice via his self-serving and misleading representations that “the Satterfield family does not believe any crimes were involved in Gloria’s actual fall”; and (2) to Alex Murdaugh’s efforts to escape prosecution for an additional murder. SLED theoretically has an on-going investigation into the causes of Gloria’s “fall”, and if that investigation has been dropped, you have another disgraceful chapter in South Carolina corruption to investigate. And if it has not been dropped, it is SURELY an important piece of any reporting on all developments related to legal activities involved Nautilus. Thanks.

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