CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A longtime friend of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was sentenced Tuesday to nearly four years in prison for scheming to steal millions of dollars in insurance settlements from the sons of Murdaugh’s dead housekeeper.
Cory Fleming said he knew the lawyer now serving a life sentence for killing his wife and son was going to steal something from the family, but he thought it might be $100,000 — not the entire $4 million-plus award.
Federal judge Richard Gergel sentenced Fleming to 46 months in prison, which was the lower end of the sentencing guidelines. Fleming, 54, turned himself in to federal marshals and immediagely began serving his time.
Fleming and his law firm made about $675,000 over the settlement, which has since been paid back, according to court records.
Fleming is the second associate of Murdaugh sent to prison since investigators began scrutinizing every aspect of his life in June 2021 after his wife and son were shot to death at their South Carolina home. Murdaugh was convicted of their murders and is serving life in state prison.
Banker Russell Laffitte was sentenced to seven years in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to helping Murdaugh steal money from settlements the now disbarred attorney got for clients after vehicle wrecks or work injuries. Laffitte is appealing his conviction and sentence.
While Fleming knew Murdaugh was asking him to do wrong, he said he didn’t realize the depth of his old friend’s depravity.
Murdaugh still faces more than 100 charges in state and federal courts for crimes prosecutors say range from stealing from clients and his family’s law firm to running a drug and money laundering ring to tax evasion to unsuccessfully arranging for someone to kill him so his surviving son could get life insurance money.
In Fleming’s case, the victims were Gloria Satterfield and her two sons. Satterfield cleaned the Mudaugh’s house, babysat their two sons and did anything else the family asked for more than 20 years. She died after hitting her head in a fall at the home in February 2018.
Murdaugh promised the sons, who were young adults, he would take care of them and recommended they hire Fleming as their lawyer. He didn’t tell them Fleming was a longtime friend, college roommate and godfather of one of his sons.
Murdaugh told insurance companies that Satterfield tripped over their dogs and convinced them to pay more than $4 million to what they though was Satterfield’s estate through Fleming. But instead, Murdaugh had Fleming send the checks to him. The sons didn’t see a dime until Murdaugh’s finances began to unravel and they hired a different attorney.
Fleming surrendered his license to practice law in both Georgia and South Carolina, saying he dishonored the profession.
Dozens of letters from friends. family and colleagues talking about Fleming’s charity work, kind heart and willingness to help others were filed with the court.
Fleming pleaded guilty in May to a federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He faces similar state charges in the theft from Satterfield’s family and South Carolina prosecutors have said they plan to bring him to trial in September.