Alex Murdaugh Pleads Guilty to Federal Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud, and Money Laundering Charges
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — Cory H. Fleming, 54, of Beaufort, was sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy.
Fleming admitted that from in or around March 2018 until at least October 2020, Fleming conspired with former personal injury attorney Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh to defraud the estate of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper and to obtain money and property from the estate by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses.
In February 2018, Murdaugh’s housekeeper passed away after a fall at Murdaugh’s home. Murdaugh recommended that the housekeeper’s estate hire Fleming—then a personal injury and criminal defense attorney in Beaufort—to represent them and file a claim against Murdaugh to collect from his homeowner’s insurance policies. Murdaugh’s insurance companies settled the estate’s claim for $505,000 and $3,800,000.
Fleming further admitted that, as part of the scheme, Murdaugh and Fleming conspired to siphon settlement funds, disguised as “prosecution expenses,” for their own personal enrichment. Fleming directed the drafting of checks from the settlement funds held in his trust account to his personal bank account, fraudulently claiming that the funds were to pay for “expenses” related to the estate’s claim against Murdaugh. Fleming knew the funds belonged to the estate, and the payments were not for legitimate legal expenses.
In addition to the scheme Fleming admitted to in his guilty plea, Fleming was held responsible at sentencing for the theft of settlement funds from a client whose son passed away after being rendered a quadriplegic in a car accident. Specifically, Fleming used $8,528.46 of the estate’s funds to issue two checks to pay for a private plane to attend the College World Series, and he wrote a $4,560 check from the estate’s trust account directly to Murdaugh claiming the funds were legitimate expenses. Finally, Fleming used $89,133.44 remaining in the trust account to issue a check for Murdaugh’s benefit rather than properly disbursing the funds to the estate.
“Cory Fleming was trusted by clients who had suffered tragic losses, and he abused that trust for his own personal gain,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “His theft of their settlement funds undermines the public’s confidence in our legal system, and we appreciate the partnership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in holding him accountable.”
“This sentence sends a clear message that fraudulent financial activities will not be tolerated, and those who attempt to exploit innocent victims to line their own pockets will face severe consequences,” Steve Jensen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Columbia Field Office said. “The FBI remains dedicated to upholding the law and protecting the interests of those who rely on transparent and honest transactions.”
United States District Judge Richard M. Gergel accepted Fleming’s guilty plea and imposed a 46-month sentence, followed by a 3-year term of court-ordered supervision. As part of the sentence, Fleming agreed to pay $102,221.90 in restitution. He was also ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emily Limehouse, Kathleen Stoughton, and Winston Holliday are prosecuting the case.
The case against Fleming is No. 9:22-cr-394 (D.S.C.). The case against Murdaugh is No. 9:23-cr-396 (D.S.C.).
Brook Andrews, First Assistant United States Attorney, firstname.lastname@example.org, (803) 929-3000