- Ex-Prosecutor, Now a Defense Lawyer, Accused of Racketeering, Conspiring to Murder Witness
Ex-Prosecutor, Now a Defense Lawyer, Accused of Racketeering, Conspiring to Murder Witness
Posted May 20, 2009 2:35 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
A former state and federal prosecutor who is now a prominent criminal defense lawyer in Newark, N.J., has been indicted in a racketeering case. It includes allegations that he conspired to hire a hit man to murder a witness who was to testify against his client in a narcotics case.
Arrested today after being indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey, Paul Bergrin, 53, had been under investigation since 2003, when he was allegedly caught on a federal telephone wiretap revealing the name of a confidential witness to a client's cousin, reports the New York Times.
The cousin was one of the city's most powerful drug lords, the newspaper recounts, and the confidential witness, DeShawn McCray, was shot and killed three months later. His death forced Essex County prosecutors to drop the narcotics case against Bergrin's client, William Baskerville. The Times article relies on information in a press release from Ralph Marra Jr., who is the acting U.S. attorney in New Jersey.
The federal case against Bergrin and three other defendants accuses them of running a racketeering operation that involved wire fraud, money laundering and attempts to shield criminal clients from prosecution, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.
Bergrin's lawyer, Gerald Shargel, says Bergrin will plead not guilty, and describes the charges against him as "old and baseless," the Times reports.
The indictment also alleges that Bergrin traveled to Chicago in an attempt to hire a hit man to murder another witness scheduled to testify in a federal drug case in Monmouth County, N.J., according to Marra. Because the hit man Bergrin allegedly attempted to hire is cooperating with authorities, there was no murder in that case, Marra says.
A subsequent Bloomberg article provides extensive details about Bergrin's background and the allegations being made against him.
Additional and related coverage:
Asbury Park Press: "Attorney indicted on racketeering, conspiracy charges in connection with drug cases"
ABAJournal.com: "Lawyer Accused of Running Client’s Call-Girl Ring Enters Misdemeanor Plea"
Asbury Park Press: "Defense attorney may face sanctions"
ABAJournal.com: "Prosecutors Question Whether Lawyer Had Role in Witness Intimidation"
Updated on May 21 to link to subsequent Bloomberg article.