DR. Hires Biker Gang To Kill Wife Says Prosecutors
It wasn’t just a drug ring, the doctor said: It was a “financial empire.”
And when Dr. James Kauffman’s so-called empire was threatened by his wife, Kauffman — a 68-year-old New Jersey endocrinologist — decided to work with his motorcycle gang allies to find a hitman who would kill her, according to Atlantic County prosecutors.
Kauffman had been working with the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Gang to illegally distribute opioid pills, prosecutors said. Kauffman’s wife, April, knew what he was doing — and after her husband said he wouldn’t give her a favorable divorce, she threatened to expose the entire, extensive drug operation, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
“As a result of April Kauffman’s desire to divorce James Kauffman, he was intent to have her killed, as opposed to losing his ‘financial empire,’ ” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Tyner announced Tuesday that Kauffman has been charged with murder and racketeering in connection with his wife’s death more than five years ago. Seven other individuals — including the man who conspired with Kauffman to kill his wife — were also charged in connection with the drug ring, prosecutors announced.
Kauffman denied any involvement in the murder through his attorney, the Inquirer reports.
It took Kauffman and his co-conspirator, Pagan Outlaw member Ferdinand Augello, 61, about a year to find someone to kill Kauffman’s wife, prosecutors said.
After Augello asked several other individuals to kill the woman, Francis “Frank” Mulholland finally agreed to kill her in 2012, prosecutors said. The two conspirators gave Mulholland a gun and $20,000 — or more — in the murder-for-hire plot.
Auguello and Kauffman were at the top of the drug distribution hierarchy in the ring: Auguello would send individuals to Kauffman, who would then write them prescriptions for Oxycontin. Ferdinand Augello would get either $1,000 in cash or a predetermined number of pills when each prescription was filled, prosecutors said.
When Mulholland shot Kauffman’s wife, their handyman found her body on May 10, 2012, at the couple’s home in Linwood, N.J., prosecutors said.
Kauffman told police he’d been at work, denying any involvement. She was lying face down on the floor, and was pronounced dead. The medical examiner said she was shot several times, prosecutors said.
April Kauffman was 47 at the time of her death, the Press of Atlantic City reports, and was known throughout the community as a radio host, hair stylist and entrepreneur. She was also known for her work with veterans.
The drug ring continued for five years after April Kauffman was killed, Tyner said — until James Kauffman was arrested in June 2017 while federal and local authorities executed a search warrant of his home and medical practice.
Kauffman was wielding a 9 mm gun when authorities were executing the warrant on June 13, the Inquirer reports. He allegedly shouted: “I’m not going to jail for this.”
After a 45-minute stand-off with authorities, Kauffman surrendered and was taken to the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
Mulholland, who prosecutors said killed April Kauffman by shooting her twice, died of a drug overdose in 2013, Tyner said.
Kauffman’s medical license has been suspended, the Press reports.
Auguello also faces another intriguing charge: Conspiracy to murder James Kauffman, with whom prosecutors said he’d conspired to kill April Kauffman, ABC 6 reports. On that charge, prosecutors didn’t elaborate.
Kimberly Pack, April Kauffman’s daughter, said she was gratified to see James Kauffman charged, the Press reports.