MAYS LANDING, NJ (WTXF - Appearing via video camera from the Hudson County jail where he was placed for his own safety, Dr. James Kauffman looked haggard as he appeared on a courtroom TV screen to face charges that he hired a hit man to kill his wife April.
"Dr. Kauffman has maintained his innocence since the beginning. We have no different position today," Lawyer Louis Barbone told reporters.
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Kauffman listened as the judge read him his rights. He's charged with racketeering, murder and conspiracy. Investigators say it was all part of an elaborate scheme to get rid of his wife after she threatened to expose a pill mill drug operation he was allegedly running out of his office with the Pagans Motorcycle Gang.
Investigators say Pagan's associate Joseph Mulholland helped Kauffman find hired hitman Frank Mulholland to kill April Kauffman in May 2012.
Former Pagans Paul Pagano and Fred "Miserable" Augello appeared before the judge. Court records say Augello helped Kauffman kill his wife, then plotted with another Pagan and an informant to murder Dr. Kauffman.
Court records and sources tell FOX 29, Augello was caught on several wiretap conversations discussing a plot to murder Dr. Kauffman. In one case, telling an informant that he had a relative in the mob and a plan to kill Kauffman inside the Atlantic County Jail.
Not mentioned in court Thursday was an ongoing healthcare fraud investigation involving compound pain cream that sources say could ensnare Dr. Kauffman. Search warrants were executed at his office last June.