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April Kauffman

Witnesses named ahead of April Kauffman murder case

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MAYS LANDING — Next week, Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello will stand trial for the murder of Linwood’s April Kauffman, a veterans advocate and radio host found dead in her home in 2012.

Augello, 62, of Upper Township was charged in January along with April’s husband, James Kauffman, in the six-year-old murder case that captivated the region and was featured on national news. His alleged co-conspirator, James Kauffman, died in an apparent jailhouse suicide two weeks after the charges were announced.

Prosecutors have accused Augello, a retired Pagans motorcycle gang leader, local musician and sign maker, of hiring Francis Mulholland to kill April Kauffman at the request of James Kauffman. Mulholland died in 2013.

In addition to murder, the state alleges James Kauffman and Augello ran an illegal opioid drug ring out of James Kauffman’s office, and that Augello conspired to have James Kauffman killed after April’s death.

Augello has maintained his innocence, even after Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury issued a gag order in a bid to prevent media interest from influencing the trial. Augello also has attempted to spare the name of the Pagans.

So far, five other defendants in the case who were charged only with participating in the drug ring have taken plea agreements in exchange for testimony during the hearing. A sixth co-defendant, alleged Pagans leader Paul Pagano, 52, of Egg Harbor Township, rejected a plea agreement and will go to trial separately, a judge said Friday.

With jury selection for Augello set to begin Sept. 11, preliminary witness lists for the defense and prosecution in the murder trial of April Kauffman were provided by the courts and included an array of people from throughout the region.

Since the original witness lists were released in mid-August, a new set of lists has been submitted. A records request by The Press for the updated list was denied by the court, saying the document had been filed as “confidential.”

Attorney Lloyd Levenson said that while having an amended list is not unusual, having a confidential list is.

Levenson, who has had much experience on both sides of the courtroom — including trying former Linwood Councilman and Pagans member Ken Weaver in the 1980s — said witness lists can provide an insight into each side’s strategy.

Levenson said real trials are very different from Hollywood versions. He said that state court rules make it nearly impossible to not let the other side know what evidence you have.

“Normally, there’s no surprises,” Levenson said. “Everyone on (the list) is someone you expect to be there. There are no secrets; it’s not 'Perry Mason.'”

He said the witness lists also help weed out partial jurors during jury selection.

In the preliminary lists, Augello’s attorney Mary Linehan listed mostly the defense lawyers of her clients’ co-defendants. Levenson said he was “mystified” by that choice.

“It’s quite unusual,” he said.

He said lawyers are bound by attorney-client privilege, so the “witness attorneys” would not be able to offer insight into anything their clients told them. Levenson said they could speak to the details of the plea agreements, but that those are already part of the record.

The Atlantic County prosecutor’s original list focused on witnesses who had a relationship to April Kauffman or were involved in the 2012 response to her death, including April’s daughter, best friend and sister-in-law. The list also includes all of Augello's co-defendants in the case who have taken plea deals, and the one co-defendant who has maintained his innocence.

From the prosecution’s list, Levenson said it seems they are laying out the history of the case.

“Why wouldn’t you want to start from the beginning?” he said, but added it's unlikely the prosecution will call all the witnesses named.

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