VARNVILLE, S.C. (WSAV) – Alex Murdaugh was arrested Thursday morning on charges connected to a plot to arrange his own death.
The 53-year-old South Carolina lawyer arrived at the Hampton County Detention Center by police escort and was charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
Hampton County Judge Tonja Alexander set Murdaugh’s bond at $20,000 and ordered him to surrender his passport to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
“I don’t feel that Mr. Murdaugh is going to be a risk to the community,” Alexander said. “I do, however, want him to surrender his passport.”
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office asked the judge for a $100,000 assurance bond and to have Murdaugh on a monitoring device as part of the bond conditions, arguing he had the money and could be a flight risk.
Murdaugh’s attorney claimed his client’s 20 years of opioid abuse has left him without enough money to go anywhere and he has no prior criminal record.
“The only violence he’s ever been involved in this, which was to have himself executed,” Attorney Dick Harpootlian told the court. “So he’s not a danger to the community. The only person he’s a danger to is himself.”
Harpootlian said Murdaugh will be heading to an out-of-state rehab facility for treatment of his opioid addiction. He provided the location to Alexander but declined to tell reporters.
According to SLED, Murdaugh orchestrated his own shooting so a beneficiary could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh’s lawyers claimed he arranged the Sept. 4 shooting with Curtis Smith, 61 — a former client of Murdaugh’s who reportedly supplied him drugs — so his son Buster could receive the insurance money.
SLED says Smith’s shot only grazed Murdaugh’s head. He was flown to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, for treatment and, according to his lawyers, was admitted into rehab.
Days prior, Murdaugh was ousted from his family law firm for misappropriating company funds and the South Carolina Supreme Court indefinitely suspended his law license.
Smith was arrested for the planned roadside shooting and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Earlier Thursday, Alexander set Smith’s bond at $55,000. He remains in jail at this time.
Murdaugh and his family are the subjects of multiple SLED investigations.
“I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations,” stated SLED Chief Mark Keel. “The arrests in this case are only the first step in that process.”
The most recent case was opened Wednesday into the 2018 death of the family’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield and the handling of her estate.
The state agency is also investigating the murder of Murdaugh’s wife and son, Maggie and Paul, who he found shot to death on the family’s hunting property three months ago.
No arrests have been made in the killings and Murdaugh’s lawyers have said he had nothing to do with his wife and son’s deaths.