Alex Murdaugh and his son accused of selling off assets to hide their millions from lawsuits

New court documents claim powerful attorney is moving money and selling off property, stocks and a $115,000 boat through his son Buster

Rachel Sharp
Tuesday 26 October 2021 22:33
Former client charged with shooting Alex Murdaugh in insurance scam
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Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son Buster have been accused of selling off assets to hide their millions from the sons of their dead housekeeper, the family of a boat crash victim and a survivor of the crash.

New court documents, filed last week by attorneys in three civil lawsuits brought against Mr Murdaugh, claim the powerful South Carolina attorney is moving money between different accounts and selling off property, stocks and a $115,000 boat through his son.

Mr Murdaugh turned all his affairs over to his son Buster in September, according to the documents.

The documents claim that, since then, Buster has been acting as his agent to “transfer, sell or otherwise handle Alex Murdaugh’s assets” before the multiple lawsuits are settled.

The motions are asking the court to issue a temporary injunction to freeze Mr Murdaugh and Buster’s financial assets and to appoint two people as co-receivers in order to locate all assets and protect them.

The new motions mark the latest troubles for Mr Murdaugh whose life has spectacularly unravelled in recent months.

Mr Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and youngest son Paul were shot dead in a brutal double murder at the family’s hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina, back on 7 June.

In the four months that have followed, no arrests have been made in the case and no charges brought.

Three months after his wife and son’s deaths, Mr Murdaugh called 911 on 4 September claiming he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while he was changing a tire on the side of a road in Hampton County.

Mr Murdaugh was shot in the head and taken to hospital with superficial injuries.

One day after the shooting, Mr Murdaugh entered rehab for a 20-year opioid addiction and announced he had resigned from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED).

Days later, his law firm partners accused him of misappropriating millions of dollars from clients.

His version of events around the shooting also fell apart and he confessed to police to paying an alleged hitman to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so Buster could get a $10 million life insurance windfall.

Both Mr Murdaugh and his alleged accomplice Curtis Smith were charged over the incident.

Mr Murdaugh was released on bond on the promise that he enter rehab for his opioid addiction.

He was then arrested after his release on 14 October on charges of stealing funds from the wrongful death settlement over the alleged trip and fall death of the family’s housekeeper Gloria Satterfield in 2018.

Mr Murdaugh is accused of siphoning off $3.4 million of the $4 million settlement meant for Ms Satterfield’s sons to a fake company called Forge.

He is currently behind bars being held without bond on that case.

The entrance to the Murdaugh family hunting lodge where Maggie and Paul were shot dead in June

The lawsuits surrounding the attorney have also been piling up.

Ms Satterfield’s family sued Mr Murdaugh and some of his acquaintances for allegedly swindling them out of the settlement money.

The law firm PMPED filed a lawsuit earlier this month over the allegations Mr Murdaugh stole money from clients for years.

The family of Mallory Beach also brought a civil lawsuit against the Murdaugh family over her 2019 death.

Ms Beach was 19 when she was killed in a 2019 boat crash while Mr Murdaugh’s son Paul was allegedly drink driving.

Paul was due to stand trial on charges of boating under the influence and faced up to 25 years in prison. He was murdered before his trial.

One of the six survivors from the crash – Connor Cook – sued Mr Murdaugh in September, claiming he tried to shift the blame from Paul onto him.

The three motions filed last week were brought separately but simultaneously by the family of Ms Beach, the family of Ms Satterfield and Mr Cook.

In the documents, the claimants raise concerns that the Murdaughs are moving millions before any settlements in their lawsuits can be reached.

This could leave the claimants in a position unable to access settlements.

Alex Murdaugh with wife Maggie and Paul before their mystery double murder

In Mr Cook’s motion, the documents say Mr Murdaugh handed power of attorney to Buster on 16 September, giving him broad powers “to perform all and every act and thing whatsoever”, including “[t]o sell, assign, convey, pledge, mortgage and encumber... and generally manage, any and all property, both real and personal which [Alex Murdaugh] may own or acquire in the future from any source”.

The same day Mr Murdaugh surrendered to authorities and appeared in court for his bond hearing over the alleged assisted suicide plot.

The motion claims this move allows Buster “to transfer, sell or otherwise handle Alex Murdaugh’s assets in a manner that diverts the assets from the Plaintiff in this matter.”

Since then, Mr Murdaugh, Buster or other agents for the attorney have been transferring and selling off assets including several of the wealthy family’s properties, according to the filing.

On 23 September, Buster allegedly acted as his father’s agent to execute a satisfaction of a mortgage of $970,354.004 on a 42-acre property in Hampton and Colleton Counties.

On 1 October, Mr Murdaugh’s stock in the 7,000-acre hunting club Green Swamp Club was sold off, the documents claim.

The motion also points to a recent listing selling Mr Murdaugh’s 2007 Grady White 306 motorboat on for $115,000.

According to the motion, the Murdaughs have also failed to pay property taxes on the family’s beach home on Edisto Beach in a move that could result in the property being auctioned.

Around $6,000 in property taxes is owed for 2020 and more than $7,000 for 2021 on the beach home, says the motion.

If the property is vacant and the back taxes are not paid by 10 December 10, will be auctioned, it says.

The motion also says Buster was seen recently at the Venetian Hotel casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The motion points to the string of criminal and civil allegations levelled against Mr Murdaugh of fraud and stealing money as evidence that he cannot be trusted.

It claims “Alex Murdaugh has demonstrated an extraordinary pattern and practice of deceit and fraud in the handling of his assets and by his actions to misappropriate assets belonging to others”.

The motion cites the accusations he siphoned off the Satterfield settlement money, stole from his law firm and filed a false police report claiming he had been shot so Buster could access his life insurance.

It also cites comments from Mr Murdaugh’s lawyer Richard Harpootlian at his September 16 bond hearing claiming the attorney was essentially “broke”.

Instead of being “broke”, the motion argues he owns the 1,700-acre hunting lodge in Islandton where his wife and son were killed and inherited assets from wife and son as well as his father Randolph Murdaugh III who died on June 10.

The motion argues his “pattern and practice” is “to defraud, to deceive and to conceal his actions when money is at issue”.

“There is good reason to believe that Alex Murdaugh, on his own accord and/or by and through his agents, representatives or attorney-in-fact, has improperly transferred, sold, encumbered or otherwise disposed of assets improperly, thereby impairing Plaintiff’s ability to recover damages in this action,” the motion states.

The Independent has reached out to Mr Murdaugh's attorney Dick Harpootlian for comment on the new motions.

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