The man accused of planning two murders — one successful — looked at ease and even jovial at times as he awaited his first court appearance from a room inside the Atlantic County Justice Facility on Thursday.
Ferdinand Augello — known better as Freddy — sat with co-defendant Paul Pagano for the first appearance via video before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury. At one point, Pagano made a gun shape with his fingers and pointed it at Augello, who playfully pushed him away.
Augello, 61, is accused of finding the man who killed April Kauffman on May 10, 2012. Kauffman’s husband, endocrinologist Dr. James Kauffman, paid at least $20,000 for the killing, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner has said.
April Kauffman was targeted for almost a year as her husband allegedly plotted her killing to make sure she couldn’t divorce him and divulge his alleged drug-distribution empire that included a partnership with the Pagans Motorcycle Club.
Eight people have been charged with racketeering in connection with the enterprise. Dr. Kauffman and Augello are also charged with murder and other offenses.
James Kauffman was first to appear in court Thursday, via video from Hudson County Jail.
One of his attorneys, Lou Barbone, stood in for him, asking that the charges not be read.
Barbone said earlier that he had not yet had a chance to talk with his client, who was transferred to Hudson County “for his own protection.”
That may be to keep him away from his former partner.
In addition to planning April Kauffman’s killing, Augello also allegedly planned to kill James Kauffman because he worried would the doctor might implicate him in criminal activity.
From November 2017 to January, Augello had several conversations with a confidential informant that were taped, according to affidavits with the charges.
In them, Augello said he had a relative in the mafia that could take care of Kauffman, but when that didn’t happen, they discussed killing Kauffman inside the Atlantic County Justice Facility
Augello said he had individuals inside the jail who would kill the doctor.
The man who allegedly shot April Kauffman, Francis Mulholland, died of a drug overdose in October 2013.
Tabitha Chapman also appeared in court via video. She is being represented by private attorney Jim Grimley, who waived his appearance.
Augello and Pagano are expected to get public defenders.
John Mulholland, who also was in the Atlantic County Justice Facility, did not have his first appearance. He is currently hospitalized, but authorities have not said why.
Three other co-defendants remain in other states, awaiting extradition. They will have their first appearances as soon as they arrive in the area.
Detention hearings are scheduled for Tuesday. They would move to have the group held until trial.