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S.C. lawyer Alex Murdaugh indicted on new fraud charges

Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A South Carolina grand jury has handed down a new indictment accusing prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh of misappropriating an additional $2.27 million of his clients' money, prosecutors announced Friday.

Between the new indictments filed this month and others filed last year, Murdaugh, 53., faces dozens of charges accusing him of defrauding 17 victims of $8.88 million out of insurance settlements between 2011 and 2017.

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South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Friday that the grand jury issued four new indictments leveling 27 charges against Murdaugh, including 21 counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent and six counts of computer crimes. He's accused of defrauding four of his clients in these new charges.

In November and December, he was indicted on 48 counts, including breach of trust with fraudulent intent, obtaining property by false pretenses, money laundering, computer crimes and forgery for allegedly defrauding 13 clients.

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Prosecutors accused Murdaugh of stealing millions of dollars from clients whom he helped secure insurance payouts. He would allegedly direct money from the payouts into his own personal accounts, using the funds to pay off his own bills or give to family members.

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In a separate case, authorities arrested Murdaugh in September after he allegedly arranged for someone to kill him so his son could collect his $10 million life insurance policy. Murdaugh sustained superficial injuries when he was shot in the head Sept. 4.

Dick Harpootlian, one of Murdaugh's attorneys, said his client had been suffering from opioid addiction, became depressed and wanted to kill himself but believed his insurance policy would not pay out if he took his own life.

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He was indicted on one count of conspiracy, one count of false insurance claim for payment of $10,000 or more, and one count of filing a false police report.

To complicate Murdaugh's case further, three months before the suicide plot, his wife and another son were killed, and in 2018, the family's housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died in what authorities initially believed to be an accidental fall.

Authorities have since opened a criminal investigation into Satterfield's death. Her heirs say that haven't received any of the proceeds of a $4.3 million settlement agreed to by her former employer.

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Murdaugh faces two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses for allegedly misappropriating settlement funds meant for Satterfield's heirs.

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