Legal Ethics

Prosecutors Question Whether Lawyer Had Role in Witness Intimidation

Prosecutors are raising questions about whether a criminal defense lawyer helped facilitate the intimidation of witnesses who were to testify against defendants he represents, the New York Times reports.

The only criminal charge against the New Jersey lawyer, Paul Bergrin, may appear unrelated to those concerns: He is accused of running an escort service called New York Confidential that that charged $1,000 an hour. But prosecutors contend Bergrin, a former prosecutor, used the business to offer sexual favors to jail guards and police, people who were in a position to inform him about cooperating inmates, the Times story says.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Minish alleged in court that Bergrin “was a pivotal part of the conspiracy” to kill Deshawn McCray, a prosecution witness in a major drug case, the Times says. The U.S. attorney’s office contends that Bergrin disclosed McCray’s identity to friends of his client three months before McCray was shot and killed.

Prosecutors would not comment publicly about those allegations, and Bergrin says they are not true. “I had nothing to do with the homicide of any witnesses whatsoever,” he told the Times. “I would never partake in any kind of action related to that kind of conduct.”

Bergrin and his lawyer, Gerald Shargel, also dispute the charges related to the call-girl service. Shargel calls them “nonsense.”

Bergrin continues to practice law in New Jersey. He has represented Iraqi solders accused of murdering detainees and celebrities like Queen Latifah.

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