Doctor charged in wife's death moved after threat to him

Kim Pack, daughter of murder victim April Kauffman, talks to the media at her attorney's office in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, after her stepfather, Dr. James Kauffman, was charged in the murder, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Kauffman, a New Jersey doctor running an illegal prescription opioid drug ring with a motorcycle gang had a member hire someone to kill his wife after she threatened to expose the scheme while trying to force him to agree to a divorce, authorities said Tuesday. (Vernon Ogrodnek/The Press of Atlantic City via AP)

A New Jersey doctor accused of having his wife killed to protect an illegal prescription drug ring he was running with an outlaw biker gang has been moved to a different jail nearly 100 miles away due to an alleged plot by a co-defendant to kill him

MAYS LANDING, N.J. — A New Jersey doctor accused of having his wife killed to protect an illegal prescription drug ring he was running with an outlaw biker gang has been moved to a different jail nearly 100 miles away due to an alleged plot by a co-defendant to kill him.

James Kauffman, 68, of Linwood, New Jersey, is charged with numerous offenses, including murder, racketeering and weapons offenses.

Kauffman and co-defendant Ferdinand Augello, 61, of Petersburg, New Jersey, are charged in the death of Kauffman's 47-year-old wife, April, a radio talk show host who was fatally shot in her home in May 2012.

The charges, including those relating to April Kauffman's shooting as well as the alleged plot to kill James Kauffman, were announced Tuesday after more than five years of investigation.

On Thursday, following brief initial court appearances via video links, prosecutors said Kauffman has been moved from the Atlantic County Jail in Mays Landing to the Hudson County Jail in Kearney, nearly 100 miles away, for his protection.

"We don't think it would be prudent for those two to be lodged together," Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said.

The prosecutor said Augello discussed a plan to have Kauffman killed before he could come to trial. Scott Sherwood, a public defender representing Augello, declined to comment Thursday.

Kauffman has long maintained his innocence, a stance his attorney, Louis Barbone, repeated Thursday.

"We're saying what we've been saying for the past few years: He's not guilty," Barbone said.

On a video link with the judge, Kauffman did not speak other than to reply "yes" several times when asked if he understood his legal rights.

April Kauffman was a businesswoman who hosted weekly radio talk shows and advocated for military veterans. She had received a governor's award for outstanding community service a few days before her death.

Authorities say Kauffman arranged for his wife's murder to keep her from divorcing him in 2011 and exposing a lucrative drug distribution ring he was running with the Pagans Outlaw Motorcycle Gang through his endocrinology practice in the suburbs outside Atlantic City.

Tyner said Kauffman told Augello about his wife's threats and solicited him to have her killed. After about a year, a man who agreed to do it, Francis Mullholland, was driven to the home, where the doors were left open, and was given a gun, authorities said. April Kauffman was shot twice, and her body was found by a handyman.

Tyner said Mullholland, who got about $20,000 in cash, was later found dead of a drug overdose.

Prosecutors said the drug empire lasted until June 2017, when Kauffman was arrested on weapons charges at his Egg Harbor Township office. Authorities said he brandished a handgun as agents executed a search warrant and said, "I'm not going to jail for this!" A hostage negotiator persuaded him to surrender.

Kauffman's license was suspended after his arrest.

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This story has been corrected to show prosecutors revealed the alleged murder plot against Kauffman on Tuesday, not Thursday.

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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