Mays Landing, New Jersey – Nearly six years after a popular Jersey Shore radio host and military veteran advocate was murdered, police have arrested her physician husband in a murder-for-hire plot, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
Dr. James Kauffman, 68, a prominent endocrinologist, had long been rumored to be involved with the May 10, 2012 shooting death of his wife, 47-year-old April Kauffman.
His wife was found dead in the couple’s Linwood home, The Inquirer reported.
“As a result of April Kauffman’s desire to divorce James Kauffman, he was intent to have her killed, as opposed to losing his ‘financial empire,’ as he described it to several individuals,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner explained during a 4 p.m. news conference on Jan. 9.
According to ABC News, April had learned that James and another man, Ferdinand Augello, 61, had established an illegal opioid drug distribution scheme through James’ medical practice.
When April threatened to divorce him and to expose his illegal network, James decided to have his wife killed, prosecutors said.
Investigators said that James asked Augello to hire a hitman, and that Augello then “propositioned a number of individuals” from The Pagans outlaw motorcycle gang to murder April, according to prosecutors.
After approximately a year of conspiring, James and Augello paid Francis “Frank” Mullholland at least $20,000 to kill James’ wife, The Inquirer reported.
Mullholland shot April twice in her bedroom, after her husband left for work. Her body was discovered by a handyman who took care of the couple’s pet birds.
Prosecutors said that James continued to work with members of the motorcycle gang, and that he used his medical practice to facilitate the illegal drug ring for another five years.
That all ended on June 17, 2017, when investigators executed a search warrant at his office, ABC News reported.
As police swarmed in, James pulled out a 9mm handgun and shouted, “I’m not going to jail for this!” The Inquirer reported.
He threatened to commit suicide, leading to a standoff.
Ultimately, James was taken into custody, and was charged with weapons offenses and threatening officers, ABC News reported.
He has remained in custody since that time, and his medical license has been suspended, CBS News reported.
On Tuesday, James and Augello were charged with murder, first-degree murder, first-degree racketeering, and leading a narcotic trafficking organization, The Inquirer reported.
Prosecutors said that Augello also attempted to kill James at one point, and that he faces an additional charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Augello’s ex-wife, Beverly Augello, was charged with first-degree racketeering.
Prosecutors said that she picked up the money used to pay Mullholland, as well as prescriptions for illegal drugs.
Five other individuals were also charged with racketeering offenses, prosecutors said.
Mullholland died of a drug overdose in 2013.
Shortly after the Tuesday announcement that her stepfather had been charged, April’s daughter, 35-year-old Kimberly Pack, addressed reporters in the lobby of her attorney’s office.
“As you can imagine, today is a very, very difficult day for me and for my family,” Pack said.
She thanked prosecutors, investigators, and the many people who provided her with support over the years as she fought to keep her mother’s case from being forgotten.
“As a victim, May 10, 2012 forever changed my life,” she said. “I have been waiting patiently for justice, and today I was lucky enough to be granted justice.”
“I do understand that this is going to be a very long process, and this is by no means over,” Pack continued. “I think for the first time, today I can actually breathe.”