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Ex-Prosecutor Tied to More Crimes Targeting Witnesses, Indictment Says

Posted Nov 10, 2009 8:12 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Paul Bergrin was already in solitary confinement awaiting trial on federal charges that he conspired to murder a witness in a drug case and about to make a renewed argument for bail. But now the high-profile New Jersey defense lawyer for rap stars and gang members, who formerly worked as a state and federal prosecutor, has been indicted on 39 new counts.

The new allegations against the 53-year-old Bergrin, in a racketeering case that accuses him of involvement in an operation that intimidated and killed witnesses, were made in a superseding federal indictment unsealed today in Newark and a court hearing at which a co-defendant was charged, according to the Associated Press and the Star-Ledger.

The indictment, which also accuses other defendants of involvement in these crimes, alleges that Bergrin paid a witness to lie in testimony in an Essex County armed robbery case in which Bergrin was representing a defendant and that some 53 kilograms of cocaine were seized from a New Jersey restaurant in which Bergrin had an ownership interest. It also alleges that Bergrin's girlfriend tried to arrange to murder a witness in a prostitution case in which Bergrin himself was the defendant, according to the two articles.

The prostitution case resulted in a New York state misdemeanor conviction against Bergrin for running a brothel, and he is now also facing federal charges of crossing state lines to aid the $1,000-an-hour Manhattan sex business.

In today's court hearing, assistant U.S. Attorney John Gay told a federal magistrate judge that "hundreds of kilograms of cocaine" were sold between 2005 and 2009 from a Bergrin-owned property in Newark used as a "stash house" for cocaine, the AP reports.

Bergrin has pleaded not guilty to earlier charges; one of his lawyers declined to comment on the new charges when reached by the Star-Ledger, telling the newspaper that he needs time to study them.

Another attorney, Thomas Moran, is among three defendants accused in the superseding indictment of paying a witness to lie on the stand, the Star-Ledger says.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "No Bail for N.J. Attorney Paul Bergrin in Federal Racketeering Case"

ABAJournal.com: "Judge Ends Probation in Brothel Case as Ex-Prosecutor Awaits Trial for Murder"

ABAJournal.com: "2nd N.J. Attorney Charged re Alleged Law Office Conspiracy to Murder Witness"

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