A hush fell over the Williamsburg County court room when disgraced attorney and Murdaugh co-conspirator Cory Fleming appeared wearing a horizontal-striped jumpsuit identifying him as an inmate of the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston, South Carolina. 

Fleming, who is in custody after he pleaded guilty to a single federal count of conspiracy to commit fraud, appeared in state court on Aug. 23 to answer for an additional 23 charges in state court related to theft he allegedly committed with Alex Murdaugh as early as 2011. The hearing — which was initially expected to be a status hearing ahead of a Sept. 11 trial in Beaufort County — consisted of Fleming pleading guilty to all charges against him and while prosecutor Creighton Waters explained the state’s case to Judge Clifton Newman. 

Waters, you may remember, was the lead prosecutor for Alex Murdaugh’s double homicide trial in Colleton County last winter, while Newman was the judge who presided. 

Fleming’s voice was quiet and hoarse as he confirmed his intent to plead guilty to all charges and his understanding of the rights he waived by not taking the case to trial. 

Waters pulled no punches as he laid out the evidence, which included 21 exhibits that included multiple emails indicating that Fleming was a willing participant in the alleged financial crimes and was not hoodwinked, hoodooed, or snowed by Murdaugh as he initially indicated.

“This is the first time we’re gonna see accountability for abuse of the state court system,” Waters said. 

Fleming’s misdeeds reportedly include stealing money from the estate of Hakeem Pinckney, a deaf man who was left a quadriplegic following a 2009 car accident. He died in 2011 after the ventilator at his nursing home became unplugged. 

Fleming also pleaded guilty to charges that he stole insurance money after settling Gloria Satterfield’s estate. Satterfield was the Murdaugh’s housekeeper who died in an alleged trip-and-fall accident at Moselle in 2018, the same hunting property where Murdaugh killed his wife and youngest son in 2021. 

After Waters explained the evidence, Fleming and his attorney, Debbie Barbier, said they agreed there was enough evidence to prove his guilt, but indicated they took exception with some of the statements Waters made. Barbier told Newman she’d make her arguments against those allegedly erroneous statements when Fleming receives his state sentence in September. 

Fleming is currently serving a 46-month sentence for his federal plea, but his state charges could net him a total of 275 years in prison after his federal sentence has been served. 

You can hear more about Cory’s federal sentence in True Sunlight episode 12 and Cup of Justice episode 43, and his state guilty pleas in True Sunlight episode 13, which drops Aug. 24.

Contact Beth Braden

Beth Braden

Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist whose mastery of the deep dive is evident in her work.

In addition to Braden’s experience writing about local government, crime and courts, and engaging features from her home state of Tennessee, her byline appears on several internationally-known websites. She is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and loves to pore over public records.

Braden joined Luna Shark Media in 2023 armed with a love of truth as she seeks out data from the darkest places, drags it into the light, and provides illuminating analysis. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.

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