N.J. Doctor Accused of Having Wife Murdered and Running Drug Ring Kills Himself in Prison
James Kauffman, a well-known New Jersey doctor facing criminal charges for allegedly hiring someone to murder his wife after she threatened to expose a drug distribution ring he allegedly ran with the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, killed himself on Friday morning while still in custody, PEOPLE confirms.
Kauffman was found dead in his cell at approximately 9:20 a.m. Friday, a spokesman for Hudson County’s Department of Corrections tells PEOPLE. He was being held at the Hudson County Jail in Kearney, New Jersey.
No other details about the doctor’s suicide were immediately available.
His death comes just weeks after formal charges were filed against him and seven months after investigators attempting to execute a search warrant at his medical offices were met by an armed Kauffman, sparking an hours-long standoff.
Recently released police body cam footage reveals Kauffman threatened to kill himself during that altercation, as officers were closing in.
Kauffman, a 68-year-old endocrinologist, was facing a litany of charges, including murder, racketeering and leading a narcotics network.
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Seven other people were indicted along with Kauffman, including Ferdinand Augello, 61, who was also charged with murder in the death of Kauffman’s 47-year-old wife, April Kauffman.
April hosted a popular program on WIBG, a radio station broadcasting out of Ocean City, New Jersey.
According to prosecutors, her slaying was planned over the previous year, with Augello allegedly paying Francis “Frank” Mullholland $20,000 to carry out the hit. Prosecutors claim Mullholland, who died four years ago, was given a gun the morning of May 10, 2012.
A door was allegedly left unlocked at the Kauffmans’ Linwood, New Jersey, home so that Mullholland could enter undetected. He then allegedly shot April twice, killing her. She was found dead by a handyman.
James told police he had nothing to do with his wife’s death, but prosecutors suspected he wanted her killed because she was planning to divorce him and expose his alleged connection to a drug ring.
“It was determined that a long term alliance between members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Gang and former doctor, James Kauffman, was created for mutual financial gain through the use of Kauffman’s medical practice for illegal drug distribution which culminated on May 10, 2012 with the ‘murder for hire’ of April Kauffman,” prosecutors have alleged.
The claimed, “James Kauffman stated he would sooner kill April than grant the divorce and lose ‘half his empire.’”
In a previous statement, prosecutors said James objected to “a favorable divorce settlement,” and that April had threatened “to spend as much money as she could until a divorce was granted.” According to the statement, April said she would allegedly “expose the fraudulent and unlawful practices taking place” at her husband’s medical office.
“Ultimately, James Kauffman made the decision to kill April Kauffman and, based on information and belief, Kauffman told Augello that April threatened to expose the illegal OXY distribution network they had established,” the statement alleged.
Prosecutors alleged James would “give free scripts” to people posing as patients, who were allegedly sent to him by Augello.
“In turn, those individuals then recruited additional people to receive the OXY scripts,” read the statement. “Ferdinand Augello would receive either a cash payment of $1,000 per script or a predetermined number of pills once the script was filled. If an individual did not have insurance, they were required to pay $100 per visit. Those that would receive the scripts would either resell them or use them.”
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Augello allegedly spent a year trying to convince a number of people to murder April. “These individuals were all Pagans, former Pagans or associated with the Pagans,” prosecutors claimed.
The day of the killing, Ferdinand Augello’s ex-wife, Beverly Augello, was allegedly sent to James’ office to pick up the cash and some additional prescriptions.
In addition to murder, Ferdinand was additionally charged with allegedly trying to kill James Kauffman, the statement says.Ferdinand was charged with racketeering, murder, conspiracy to commit murder and leading a narcotics network. He does not have an attorney who could comment on his behalf and has yet to plead to the charges.
Beverly was charged with racketeering, prosecutors said. So were Joseph Mulholland, 52; Glenn Seeler, 37; Paul Pagano, 61; Tabitha Chapman, 35; and 36-year-old Cheryl Pizza.
It was unclear Friday if any of the defendants had appeared before a judge to enter pleas to their charges, and public records do not indicate if they have hired attorneys.