Husband charged with murder-for-hire of April Kauffman
WARNING: Audio contains strong language. Mark Lyczak of Medford, is accused of killing Colleen Brownell, 48, and Alysia McCloskey, 41, and critically wounding a third woman during the Dec. 30 attack. Courier-Post
MAYS LANDING - A Linwood doctor tried for almost a year to arrange his wife's murder after she threatened to expose a drug ring he allegedly ran with members of a motorcycle gang, authorities said Tuesday.
The slaying of 47-year-old April Kauffman, a well-known radio personality, finally took place when a hired killer fatally shot the woman in her bedroom during the early-morning hours of May 10, 2012, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
The prosecutor’s office announced murder charges against the husband, 68-year-old James Kauffman, and an alleged partner in the drug ring, 61-year-old Ferdinand Augello of Petersburg, Cape May County.
Augello also is charged with conspiring to kill James Kauffman, although the prosecutor’s office gave no details about that alleged plot.
Racketeering charges also were brought against Kauffman, Augello and six other people after an investigation into the alleged drug ring.
In a lengthy statement, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner alleged James Kauffman ordered his wife’s death to protect his assets from an acrimonious divorce.
The prosecutor alleged the doctor illegally distributed oxycodone from his medical office from 2011 to 2017 through an "alliance" with members of The Pagans, an outlaw motorcycle gang. Augello was a leader of the gang's Cape May County chapter, according to a court filing.
According to Tyner, Kauffman solicited Augello to murder his wife in the summer of 2011. April Kauffman wanted out of her marriage, according to Tyner, and her husband allegedly said he'd rather kill her than lose "half his empire" in a divorce.
"Kauffman agreed to write prescriptions of oxycontin to numerous individuals referred by Augello," says a probable cause statement for Augello's arrest. "In exchange, Kauffman received cash from each referred individual, as well as Augello's promise to have Kauffman's wife murdered."
Tyner's statement said April Kauffman pushed her husband to end the marriage by trying “to spend as much money as she could until a divorce was granted.”
She also threatened “to expose the fraudulent and unlawful practices taking place at her husband’s medical office,” the statement said.
Augello allegedly approached “a number of individuals” affiliated with the Pagans without success, it added.
The statement said James Kauffman "was getting restless" when Augello recruited a willing hitman identified as Francis Mullholland.
“It is believed that Francis Mullholland received a ride to the Kauffman residence in the early morning hours of May 10, 2012,” the statement says.
“The doors were left open and Francis Mullholland was given a gun. He went inside, shot April Kauffman twice, killing her, and then left.”
Linwood police found April Kauffman's body around 11:30 a.m. after responding to a 911 call about an unconscious woman at the home. James Kauffman met police at the door and said he'd found his wife in the bedroom.
The prosecutor’s office said it’s believed Mullholland received a payment for the murder, although it’s unknown if that was in the form of cash, drugs or both.
“Francis Mullholland has stated that he received approximately $20,000 in cash for his role, though this number has been speculated at being higher,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Mullholland has died since the 2012 shooting, the prosecutor's office said.
The prosecutor's office alleged the payment was picked up on the day of the murder by Augello's ex-wife, 47-year-old Beverly Augello of Summerland Keys, Fla.
She also was charged with racketeering.
Authorities closed down the drug ring after raids on Kauffman's home and Egg Harbor Township office in June 2017, according to the prosecutor's office.
Kauffman displayed a gun as investigators arrived at his medical office, causing a standoff.
He was later monitored at a psychiatric intervention program and was charged with weapons offenses and obstruction of the administration of law. Kauffman's medical license was suspended after his arrest.
The prosecutor's office alleged Kauffman would give opioid prescriptions to people sent to his office by Augello, who would receive either $1,000 for each prescription or a predetermined number of pills.
Kauffman has been held since June 13 at Atlantic County Jail.
Evidence in the case includes secretly recorded conversations between an informant and Augello and others "who have admitted to the details of the "enterprise," including prescription fraud and the
murder of April Kauffman," the prosecutor's office said.
Also charged with racketeering were Joseph Mulholland, 52, of Villas; Paul Pagano, 61, of Egg Harbor Township; Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon, and two South Carolina residents, 36-year-old Cheryl Pizza of Murrells Inlet and 37-year-old Glenn Seeler of Sanford.
They allegedly obtained prescription painkillers from Kauffman, according to the prosecutor's office.
Francis Mullholland and Joseph Mulholland were not related, the prosecutor's office said.
Jim Walsh; @jwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; email@example.com