Alleged Murdaugh conspirator pleads guilty
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A lawyer accused of conspiring with Alex Murdaugh to take settlement funds from housekeeper Gloria Satterfield has pled guilty and was given a $25,000 bond.
Cory Fleming, 54, appeared before Judge Richard Gergel Thursday in federal court in downtown Charleston for the plea.
He will be sentenced at a later date but faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Murdaugh recommended the family of Satterfield hire Fleming to represent them and file a claim against Murdaugh’s homeowner’s insurance policies following her death after a fall at Murdaugh’s home. The estate’s claims were settled by Murdaugh’s insurance companies for $505,000 and $3.8 million.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina says information alleges Murdaugh and Fleming conspired to siphon settlement funds, disguised as “prosecution expenses” for personal gain.
U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse, who prosecuted former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte for his role in federal financial crimes that also stole from the Satterfield family, is also bringing the federal charges against Murdaugh. She says there is a still a lot ahead.
“Cory Fleming is the first person who has come in and plead guilty and taken responsibility for his role in these financial crimes and we think that’s important. As you heard, his plea agreement requires him to cooperate fully with us, with state, local and federal law enforcement and that includes to testify if he’s called upon to do so,” Limehouse explains.
Additionally, the information alleges Fleming transferred funds from a trust account to his personal bank account and claimed the funds were for expenses related to the Satterfield estate claim.
The office alleges Fleming knew the funds belonged to the estate and the payments were not for legitimate legal expenses. Thursday, Fleming admitted before the judge that he take some of the money for personal use and when asked if he knew it was wrong at the time, Fleming answered “Oh absolutely yes sir.”
In exchange for Fleming’s cooperation, the federal prosecutors will recommend he serve any convicted jail time in federal prison instead of state and that any future state convictions be served at the same time as his federal sentence.
Judge Richard Gergel did say, the state attorney general’s office and bureau of prisons are their own entities, who can take the recommendation into account, but ultimately handle Fleming’s state charges however they want.
Fleming is facing state charges of breach of trust, money laundering, computer crimes and conspiracy at the state level and has a trial date for this September. https://www.live5news.com/2023/04/21/alleged-murdaugh-conspirators-appear-court-prosecutors-push-trials/
Fleming was not deemed a flight risk, danger to society or able to again commit the crime he plead guilty to, so he will remain out on bond until his sentencing.
“He’s also agreed and as his attorney mentioned in the bond hearing, he’s going to relinquish his law license both in Georgia and South Carolina so we think those are all notable things,” Limehouse says. “Our main goals are really to hold people fully accountable for their crimes and to do our part to make those victims whole, so Cory Fleming’s plea today really advances both of those objectives.”
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