As stepdaughter watches, James Kauffman ordered held for trial in April Kauffman murder

James Kauffman, center, accused of hiring a hitman to murder his wife in 2012, arrives in Courtroom 5 at the Atlantic County Courthouse on Thursday January 18, 2018 for his detention hearing before Judge Bernard DeLury. MICHAEL BRYANT/ Staff Photographer

MAYS LANDING, N.J. — Dressed in pearls and a blue suit and surrounded by her friends and friends of her late mother, Kimberly Pack watched with a look almost of pity as her stepfather,  James Kauffman, was ordered held for trial Thursday in the slaying of her mother, April Kauffman.

Camera icon Michael Bryant
Kimberly Pack (center) reacts to seeing her stepfather, James Kauffman, enter the courtroom.

The appearance of Kauffman, 68, who has been in jail since June on related weapons charges, has deteriorated dramatically since his arrest. Hunched over, white-haired, and with a scruffy beard, he looked down for most of the hearing after he was brought in from Hudson County in a six-hour ordeal of traffic. It was a marked difference from his initial court appearance, when the popular endocrinologist looked decades younger and his new wife, Carole Weintraub of Philadelphia, sat a few rows behind him. She was not in court Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury, who in June ordered Kauffman detained on weapons charges after he brandished a gun when law enforcement arrived at his medical practice with search warrants, found probable cause on the murder charge and continued the order to detain Kauffman. Kauffman’s attorney, Louis Barbone, did not object.

Camera icon Michael Bryant
James Kauffman (left) looks toward his lawyer, Louis Barbone.

After the hearing, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said jail seemed to have taken a toll on Kauffman, whose license has been revoked.

“I would imagine that being incarcerated since June, for a man of his age, conditions are much different than spending time at an Arizona retreat house,” Tyner said outside the courtroom. “Not having access to Grecian Formula and things of that nature, that could pose an issue to someone that cares about his appearance.” Kauffman lives in Linwood and has another home in Arizona.

Tyner broke the case open this month after 5½ years, announcing the arrests of Kauffman and Ferdinand Augello in a murder-for-hire scheme that stemmed from April Kauffman’s threats to expose a vast illegal opioid ring tied to the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, of which Augello was a local officer.  Prosecutors allege that Kauffman and Augello arranged to hire a hit man, Francis Mullholland, to kill April Kauffman. Mullholland died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2013, prosecutors said.

Camera icon Michael Bryant
Kimberly Pack receives a comforting touch from one of her supporters, seated around her in the courtroom.

At a separate hearing Thursday, Augello, a long ponytail down his back tied with several rubber bands at different points, was also ordered detained pending trial.

Augello, who owns a guitar store and played in a popular Shore band, the Who Dat, is also accused of plotting to have James Kauffman killed in jail because, said Prosecutor Seth Levy, he believed Kauffman had “so-called flipped on him.” He was a president of the Cape May chapter of the Pagans, prosecutors say.

“This defendant needs to stay in prison,” Levy said. “Every time he’s out, he attempts to murder people who do him wrong.”

Camera icon Michael Bryant
Ferdinand Augello enters the courtroom.

Augello’s attorney, Mary Linehan, said he maintained his innocence and said his ties to the community and his 25-year business were strong. However, DeLury ruled Augello a flight risk and a safety risk, and ordered him detained.

Two other co-defendants, Joseph Mulholland, 52, of Villas, and Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon, had hearings Thursday before DeLury and were ordered released to await trial. They are both charged with racketeering in the drug scheme, in which prosecutors say Kauffman wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and members or associates of the Pagans distributed or sold the drugs.

Mulholland’s attorney, Ed Weinstock, said Mulholland had been treated for pain following several surgeries and had become addicted to the opioids. “He was a legitimate patient,” Weinstock said of Mulholland, adding that he has since kicked the habit.

James Grimley, Chapman’s attorney, described his client as a low-level “pawn” in the drug scheme who worked as a supermarket manager and in a law office.

Camera icon Michael Bryant
Tabitha Chapman, charged with second-degree racketeering, watches as her lawyer, James Grimly, walks to the bench.
Camera icon Michael Bryant
Joseph Mulholland, who is charged with first degree racketeering, enters the courtroom.