Ex-lawyer Cory Fleming files to appeal criminal conviction, sentencing

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:25 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2023 at 6:57 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The former South Carolina attorney who pleaded guilty to state charges ranging from breach of trust with fraudulent intent, money laundering and criminal conspiracy will appeal his prison sentence.

Former South Carolina attorney Cory Fleming filed an appeal against his criminal conviction and sentencing on Thursday.

Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Fleming to a total of 13 years, 10 months in prison on Sept. 14 based on multiple individual indictments that carried possible penalties of between five and 20 years, according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.

“My heart bleeds for you because I have no doubt of the quality of human being that you are as reflected by all of the positive comments,” Newman said at the sentencing. “But you must suffer the consequences of your actions and these cases that you’re standing before me for.”

The charges stem from accusations that he conspired with disbarred Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh to take money from a wrongful death settlement from the estate of Gloria Satterfield. Satterfield was Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died after what was described as a “trip-and-fall” accident at Murdaugh’s home in February of 2018.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Fleming himself also addressed the court, telling Newman he had represented clients in the same courtroom where he now was to be sentenced to prison.

“I was very aware that one bad decision or a series of bad decisions can have life-changing, and irreversible consequences. Despite knowing this firsthand, I made some terrible decisions and broke the law,” Fleming said. “Today I offer this court no excuses. There are no excuses. I place the blame for my actions on my shoulders. Nobody else’s.”

Federal Judge Richard Gergel previously sentenced Fleming to 46 months, almost four years, on federal charges after Fleming pleaded guilty to them.

Gergel said he would send a message to Newman that no more time behind bars should result from the state charges. But at Fleming’s sentencing on the state charges, Newman said he did not allow federal courts to influence the sentences Newman imposes.

After the sentencing, attorney Eric Bland, who represented Satterfield’s estate, praised the sentence.

“Today justice was done and, you know, justice always isn’t pretty it always isn’t kind, but justice was done and we have a system that worked.”