Dr. James Kauffman, left, jailed since June, was accused this week of hiring a Pagan to murder his wife, April Kauffman. (Provided)

A former South Jersey doctor and a Pagan motorcycle gang member had a hearing  Thursday over how they allegedly plotted the murder of the doctor's wife.

 

Dr. James Kauffman, 68, was arrested for the 2012 murder of his wife, April Kauffman, 47, a local businesswoman and radio host who had received awards for her community service.

 

Prosecutors now say April's death was plotted by her husband, an endocrinologist, in part to conceal his profitable business selling illegal painkillers on the side allegedly through the Pagans motorcycle gang.

 

Kauffman was arrested at his Egg Harbor Township medical office in June 2017 after police executed a warrant looking for illegal guns. He held a 9mm Ruger, said "I'm not going to jail for this" and pointed the gun at himself before surrendering to police. (A Keltch .380-caliber was also reportedly found at his practice.)

 

He and Augello were charged on Jan. 9 with plotting his wife's murder, along with five others charged by the Atlantic City Prosecutor's Office with racketeering and related charges.

Prosecutors from the New Jersey Attorney General's office say that Kauffman sold Percocet, OxyContin and Oxycodone out of his practice. Alleged Pagan Ferdinand Augello sent him customers, and got some $1,000 per prescription or pre-arranged supply of pills. The operation was run entirely by Pagans and their associates, prosecutors say. All told, seven people were charged

Prosecutors say that as April was divorcing Kauffman, his objections to her requests led her to threaten to expose his illicit activities and to "attempt to spend as much money as she could until a divorce was granted," prosecutors say.

Whether or not she truly intended to go to authorities, Kauffman conveyed to the Pagans that she presented a real threat, prosecutors claim.

"James Kauffman stated he would sooner kill April than grant the divorce and lose 'half his empire,'" they said in a press release.

Kauffman and Augello allegedly spent a year looking for someone willing to kill April, and eventually found alleged hitman Francis Mulholland, who on May 10, 2012, entered the Kauffman's home in Linwood and shot April twice in the second-floor bedroom, killing her. He later said he received $20,000 for his role, prosecutors said.

The case was cold for five years before prosecutors linked it back to her husband after executing the search warrant at his office.

Augello is also charged with conspiracy to murder Dr. Kauffman. Further details about that plot were not immediately available.