White-Collar Crime

Federal Judge Delays Racketeering Trial of NJ Lawyer, Says Prosecutors Mischaracterized Court

A federal judge in Newark today postponed a racketeering trial scheduled to start next week for a high-profile New Jersey defense attorney accused of orchestrating a variety of criminal enterprises, including a cocaine operation, in connection with his law practice.

Prompting the decision by U.S. District Judge William J. Martini to delay the trial of attorney Paul Bergrin without setting another date is an appeal filed by federal prosecutors over the judge’s decision to have Bergrin tried separately on some of the charges he faces, the Record reports. A ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the issues raised is expected to take months.

A jury failed to reach a verdict in November in a previous trial of Bergrin on charges that he conspired to have a witness against a client murdered.

Bergrin, who has been jailed since 2009, spoke briefly during today’s hearing to say he didn’t object to an indefinite trial delay.

Meanwhile, the judge expressed his unhappiness with prosecutors for disclosing off-the-record discussions in their appeal and, he said, mischaracterizing what was said. Calling the prosecution’s conduct “grossly inappropriate,” Martini said he had done nothing wrong, only sought to ensure that Bergrin got a fair trial and was not unduly prejudiced by having unrelated alleged crimes tried at the same time, the newspaper reports.

Likewise, concerning the government’s appellate-brief claim that he had made “repeated incursions into legitimate executive-branch charging decisions,” Martini told prosecutors “I find it a little bit disturbing that that kind of allegation is made.”

Earlier Record and Star-Ledger stories provide additional details.

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