MAYS LANDING, N.J. – “Sir! Drop the gun!” yelled the police negotiator outside of James Kauffman’s endocrinology practice early last Tuesday, according to an excerpt of body-camera video played in Superior Court on Monday morning.
“I’m not going to jail for this!” Kauffman, armed with a 9mm weapon, could be heard shouting.
“It’s a search warrant!” he’s told by the negotiator, whose weapon is pointed at the practice’s door. “You’re not under arrest!”
But the 45-minute standoff, nine minutes of which were played in court (see video below), led to Kauffman’s arrest on gun charges, and on Monday prompted Judge Bernard DeLury to order Kauffman, 68, detained pending trial.
The warrant, prosecutors have said, is unrelated to the May 10, 2012, slaying of the physician’s wife, April, a Jersey Shore radio host, though on Monday Prosecutor Damon Tyner said, “It’s all connected.”
Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy had urged the judge to detain Kauffman based on what Kauffman said in the video.
” ‘I’m not going to jail for this!’ Those were his words,” said Levy. “He pulled a gun out in order to avoid being arrested on charges. He kept police in an hour-long standoff. It shows how far he’s willing to go to avoid coming to court.”
Levy said Kauffman had another gun in a storage area of his car, and is known to be a gun collector. He also had $100,000 in cash, which was found in his office. Levy noted he has homes in Arizona and Philadelphia, and a valid passport.
“Had law enforcement not been so calm in this situation, the defendant may very well have been justifiably shot,” Levy added. “He pulled a gun on law enforcement.”
Ed Jacobs, Kauffman’s attorney, said he would appeal the detention ruling. He noted that Kauffman had pulled the gun out of the waistband of his scrubs and pointed it at himself, not police, according to police reports. And he said Kauffman “has every statutory right to have a weapon on those premises.”
Jacobs said Kauffman’s words were the result of the strain of being investigated — and his fear of being arrested — for a homicide he says he didn’t commit. He said Kauffman has long demonstrated that he is not a flight risk.
“Dr. Kauffman has been the exclusive source of investigative activities by the Atlantic County prosecutor in the homicide of his wife for five years,” he said. “For five years, he’s stayed here.”
DeLury said whether Kauffman was attempting to harm himself or law enforcement wasn’t the point. “But for cool and responsible actions by police in this case,” DeLury said, “the defendant’s brandishing of a firearm put him in danger [and] could have had deadly consequences for police and others in the area.
“During the hour he was held by police, the potential for dangerous escalation in the case was palpable,” DeLury said before ruling for detention.
Kauffman’s wife, Carole Weintraub of Philadelphia, attended the hearing. She has declined comment.
April Kauffman’s 2012 murder inside her bedroom roiled the affluent suburb of Linwood, outside Atlantic City. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office has said it will work as quickly as possible to return medical files seized in the raid, the subject of which they have declined to specify.
Jacobs said the search warrant he examined mentioned “health-care fraud and homicide.” The prosecutor would not disclose any further information.
The prosecutor has 90 days to indict Kauffman on the gun charges and 180 days to try him, Tyner said. He said the state would move to have Kauffman’s medical license suspended.