Jury selection begins Tuesday in the case against the only person charged in April Kauffman’s killing.
Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello faces charges of murder and racketeering in the case that alleges he and Kauffman’s doctor husband conspired to have her killed after she learned about their alleged Oxycontin ring.
The local radio host and avid veterans advocate was found fatally shot in her Linwood home May 10, 2012. This past January, the doctor and Augello were charged with murder. Six others were charged in the drug ring with the pair.
A gag order in the case was meant to help keep from dirtying the jury pool that includes more than 200 Atlantic County residents, Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury previously said.
But in granting the state’s motion to keep anyone involved in the case from talking about it outside of the courtroom, the judge admitted “the court may be closing the barn door after the equine has already bolted.”
The state’s request was sparked by Augello’s Facebook posts — put up by an unnamed intermediary — that talked about the evidence against him and included references to discovery in the case and alleged unfair treatment.
Before those posts garnered the prosecution’s ire, the case already had gone national, aided by a 20/20 special that had the full support of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Damon Tyner sat down for an interview with host Deborah Roberts, and even walked the Atlantic City Boardwalk with her, a photo previously released by his office showed.
The case’s lead detective, Sgt. James Scoppa, even took Roberts inside the Kauffmans’ Linwood home, showing her the now-empty bedroom where April Kauffman was found dead.
Defense attorneys in the case alleged — pre-gag order — that at the time the interview ran, Scoppa’s report still had not been completed and sent to them as part of their discovery.
There were several people allegedly involved in the killing, including alleged shooter Francis Mulholland, who died of a drug overdose months after April Kauffman’s death.
Dr. James Kauffman was found in his Hudson County jail cell dead of an apparent suicide. A six-page letter he left for his new wife and his lawyers was obtained by 20/20 even before those it was addressed to had seen it. It is now part of the evidence in the case.
Andrew Glick, who has admitted to being in on the planning of the hit on the doctor’s wife, is now a key witness and faces no charges.
The last pre-trial motions in the case are set for Monday.
On the eve of that, Augello sent an email to BreakingAC questioning the fairness of the gag and how the media is still getting out the prosecution’s side of the case.
“I am not discussing my case (because of the gag order), the details of my case or mentioning anyone’s name or requesting anything from anyone,” he wrote. “This is just my general observation about the gag order and its infringement on my First Amendment rights and my ability to defend myself verbally against what I predicted would occur, the prosecutions’ narrative full speed ahead via The Atlantic City Press.”
He notes that each article refers to him as “former Pagan gang leader and alleged murderer of a veterans advocate.”
“Now I am going to go into my trial within 48 hours with this narrative drilled into the minds of the thousands of subscribers or should I say readers of the Atlantic City Press, and I am sure it will become obviously amplified over the next 2-3 weeks, all because of the disingenuous façade that me publicly reacting to this one-sided treatment would taint the jury pool??” he wrote.
He predicts in the email that a jury won’t be able to be picked.
The prosecution “uses the AC Press vicariously for their own narrative and then all of a sudden they exclaim ‘Looks like we can’t pick the jury because of all this media and what Mr. Augello did months ago, looks like we will have to keep the guy in jail another 6 months.'”
“In closing, by the way, I too am a veterans’ advocate,” he writes. “And anyone who knows me personally knows this statement to be true.”