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South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh arrested at drug rehab facility in Florida, charged with stealing insurance money in housekeeper's death

The arrest on two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses involves Murdaugh's housekeeper for decades, Gloria Satterfield.

A prominent South Carolina lawyer has been charged with stealing insurance settlements meant for the sons of his late housekeeper, state police said Thursday. Alex Murdaugh was arrested at a drug rehab facility in Orlando, Florida, authorities said. His attorneys said he has spent the past six weeks at the facility since claiming he was shot in the head on the side of a lonely road near his home.

The arrest on two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses involves Murdaugh's housekeeper for decades, Gloria Satterfield, the State Law Enforcement Division said in a statement.

Murdaugh told Satterfield's sons at her February 2018 funeral that he would get insurance settlements for her death and take care of them, according to a lawsuit filed by the sons.

Murdaugh managed to secure more than $4 million from his insurers, but he only told the sons about $500,000 and then never sent them a dime, the lawsuit said.

Mother And Son Killed
In this Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 file photo, Alex Murdaugh walks into court for his bond hearing, in Varnville, S.C.  Mic Smith / AP

The Murdaugh family told the sons their mother tripped over the family dog and died weeks later from her lingering injuries. The death was never reported to the Hampton County coroner, who asked state police to investigate why she was not called to review what she would consider an accidental death.

Murdaugh is being held at the Orange County jail in Florida to await extradition, investigators said. His lawyers promised at a bond hearing on different charges last month that Murdaugh would return to South Carolina without a fight if charged with additional crimes.

The deaths of Murdaugh's wife and son at their Colleton County home in June remain unsolved. Murdaugh said he found Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul, 22, shot to death after he returned home from visiting his father in the hospital, according to authorities.

Murdaugh's lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, released a statement Thursday confirming the new charges and said a bond hearing was scheduled for Friday.

"Alex intends to fully cooperate with this investigation, as he has with the investigation into the murder of his wife and son," they said. "He deeply regrets that his actions have distracted from the efforts to solve their murders."

State police have six investigations into Murdaugh, including the deaths and September charges against Murdaugh on insurance fraud and other counts for trying to arrange his own death so his surviving son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.

Murdaugh said his head was grazed by a bullet in the attempt. The man charged with firing at Murdaugh said the gun went off as he tried to prevent his friend from shooting himself.

Attorneys for Murdaugh said he had been struggling with a longtime addiction to opioids and wanted to end his life. In a statement provided to CBS News last month, attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said:

On September 4, it became clear Alex believed that ending his life was his only option. Today, he knows that's not true. For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids. During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs. One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex's life, by shooting him in the head. Fortunately, Alex was not killed by the gunshot wound. 

The Thursday arrest is just another step in the long process for justice in all of the investigations, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said in a statement.

"As I have said previously, we are committed to following the facts wherever they may lead us and we will not stop until justice is served," Keel said.

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