Will N.J. Lawyer Charged in Claimed Witness-Murder Conspiracy Get Bail?
Posted May 29, 2009 6:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Prosecutors overreached when they charged a prominent New Jersey criminal defense lawyer in a federal racketeering case, relying on unsubstantiated hearsay accusations to try to persuade a judge he is a "walking crime wave," an attorney for Paul Bergrin argued yesterday in a second day of hearings over whether Bergrin should be granted bail.
But the judge expressed doubt about how the defendant—who himself is a former federal prosecutor—can overcome a transcript of a conversation in which he allegedly ordered the execution of a witness, reports the Star-Ledger.
"There is no explanation for some pretty damning dialogue on that tape," said U.S. District Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo at a hearing packed with attorneys, federal agents, the media and supporters of Bergrin.
Among those watching the bail hearing from a back row in the Newark courtroom was acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra of New Jersey, whose office is handling the case.
Bergrin, who has been jailed in a federal detention center in Philadelphia, attended the hearing garbed in a green jumpsuit and shackled hand and foot.
Prosecutors, who are arguing against any bail for Bergrin, contend that he poses both a flight risk and a potential danger to others, if released. A statement signed by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent claims that the 53-year-old defendant has several fake passports and significant assets secreted overseas, the Star-Ledger reports.
However, during questioning by attorney Gerald Shargel, who is representing Bergrin, a DEA agent admitted that he has never seen any bank statement showing even minimal assets held overseas by Bergrin.
The judge is expected to make a decision about bail soon.
Asbury Park Press: "Bail ruling expected in attorney's murder case"
ABAJournal.com: "Ex-Prosecutor, Now a Defense Lawyer, Accused of Racketeering, Conspiring to Murder Witness"
ABAJournal.com: "Feds Say Indicted NJ Lawyer Had 8 Cases in Which Witnesses Died or Lied"
ABAJournal.com: "2nd N.J. Attorney Charged re Alleged Law Office Conspiracy to Murder Witness"