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Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh housekeeper's heirs want to question banker over missing $4.3 million

John Monk, Jake Shore, and Kacen Bayless, The State (Columbia, S.C.) on

Published in News & Features

In a recent public statement, Fleming has said he was misled by Murdaugh and apologized for his role in the Satterfield estate matter. Fleming and his former law firm have committed to paying back the money — more than $1 million — he and his law firm received from the Satterfield estate, according to a joint statement by Fleming and Bland.

"Mr. Fleming maintains he was not a willing participant in Mr. Murdaugh's scheme but was used. Mr. Fleming states he would never knowingly jeopardize client funds or put a personal or professional relationship above his professional responsibilities," the statement said.

The lawsuit from his former firm, PMPED, alleges Murdaugh participated in a scheme similar to what is described in the Satterfield sons' lawsuit: He made checks belonging to clients and the law firm into a bank account payable to "Forge" and deposited them in a similarly named Bank of America account.

Forge Consulting LLC, an Atlanta-based financial firm, was invoked so as not to arouse suspicion, PMPED alleges, because Forge often worked with its clients to structure settlements.

Murdaugh is under criminal investigation by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division for allegations of misappropriated money from PMPED and the death of Gloria Satterfield, including any financial impropriety.

Ties to Westendorf

The 13-page request for an "emergency hearing," expected to be filed in Hampton County probate court on Wednesday, also said that:

 

— Westendorf wound up with $30,000 of the insurance proceeds though he was not eligible to receive that amount.

— Westendorf permitted Fleming to send a check for $403,500 to an account called "FORGE" at a post office box in Hampton. But the FORGE account "was a fraudulent account controlled by Murdaugh" and named Forge "for the purpose of creating the illusion that it was actually the structured settlement firm known as Forge Consulting, LLC," the motion says.

— In March 2019, Fleming and Westendorf were able to secure an additional settlement for $3.8 million from Nautilus Insurance Company, the motion says.

— In April 2019, attorney John Grantland, who represented Nautilus, sent a $3.8 million check payable to Chad Westendorf, as personal representative of Satterfield's estate, and also to Fleming's law firm. Grantland's letter requested the settlement funds not be paid out until an order approving the settlement had been filed at the Hampton County probate court.

Westendorf is a vice president of Palmetto State Bank and president of Independent Banks of South Carolina nonprofit.

According to a Facebook post from the nonprofit, Westendorf started as president on Sept. 1, which was two weeks before the allegations were leveled against him in the Satterfield case.

(c)2021 The State (Columbia, S.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.