A judiciary complaint filed against a South Carolina judge alleges she helped Alex Murdaugh hide a payout worth millions of dollars in connection to the death of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, amid already spiraling bad publicity over the fatal boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
The complaint against Beaufort County Judge Carmen Mullen was filed by 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe to the Office of Disciplinary Council and the Commission on Judicial Conduct, according to reports. It cites a Feb. 22 transcript from when Chad Westendorf, an executive at Palmetto State Bank, sat for a deposition with Eric Bland, the lawyer representing Satterfield’s two sons and the rest of her surviving family.
Testifying under oath at Bland’s office last month, Westendorf revealed that Mullen allegedly signed off on a settlement deeming Satterfield’s sons were entitled to $3.4 million on May 13, 2019, knowing that her order would not be properly entered into public record. She allowed the settlement to remain under the radar "to prevent the litigants in the Mallory Beach matter from learning about Mr. Murdaugh’s insurance coverage and his settlement with the Satterfield estate," according to the complaint.
"Judge Mullen’s pattern of alleged conduct threatens to erode public trust in our judiciary," Pascoe wrote, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The State newspaper. "Impropriety and dishonesty by members of our State’s judiciary cause real harm to all South Carolinians.
"When wealthy and politically connected individuals are treated as a privileged class by members of the judiciary, it erodes public trust in government and the fair administration of law," he added.
About a month before signing off on the Satterfield settlement, Mullen recused herself from the Mallory Beach case in April 2019. Beach was thrown from Alex Murdaugh’s boat in February 2019 while his underage and allegedly drunken son, Paul Murdaugh, was driving and crashed into a waterway bridge.
Her body wasn’t found until over a week later and Beach’s mother sued Alex Murdaugh and the gas station, where Paul allegedly used his brother’s ID and mother’s credit card to purchase alcohol underage, and others before Paul was eventually charged with boating under the influence.
The crash injured other teenage passengers, and the charges against Paul were still pending when he and his mother and Alex’s wife, Maggie Murdaugh, were murdered on their Colleton County property in June 2021 in a double homicide that remains unsolved nearly 10 months later.
The fatal boat crash happened about a year after Satterfield, the Murdaugh family’s longtime housekeeper and former housekeeper, fell on steps at their home and died at a hospital weeks later without ever regaining consciousness in February 2018.
Alex Murdaugh allegedly approached Satterfield’s sons after the funeral and admitted that their mother’s death was his fault because the alleged accident happened on his property. He told the sons to sue him and introduced them to a lawyer named Cory Fleming, who unbeknownst to them was Murdaugh’s former college roommate and close friend, past court filings allege.
Fleming then convinced one of Satterfield’s sons to sign over the rights to his mother’s estate to Westendorf, who was to act as their financial representative.
Lawyers for the Satterfield sons said they hadn’t seen a dime of the settlement money and didn’t learn of the millions of dollars they were entitled to until after it was reported by media around the same time Alex Murdaugh allegedly attempted to have himself killed in a botched roadside shooting in Hampton County in September 2021. The intent of Murdaugh’s attempted assisted suicide was allegedly so that his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect $10 million in life insurance.
Murdaugh is facing over 70 financial crime charges after indictments allege that he defrauded former legal clients out of a total of nearly $9 million. He remains held on $7 million bail at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, and this week, his attorneys filed a lawsuit to prevent the Richland County jail from releasing additional jailhouse tapes of phone conversations Murdaugh makes while detained.
The litigation comes after FITSNews.com and the Murdaugh Murders Podcast published audio and transcripts of dozens of calls Murdaugh placed to family members. The records were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request placed in January, The Post and Courier reported.