Everyone called him Doc.
Being inside a jail was new for James Kauffman. But he took life behind bars fairly quickly, says a former inmate who served about six months in the Atlantic County Justice Facility with the suspended doctor now charged with murder in his wife’s 2012 killing.
“He seemed so cool, calm and collected,” said Jason Hooven, a former inmate. “I guess that was a sign.”
Hooven had no idea the man he played cards with every night could possibly be involved in a drug enterprise with a motorcycle gang and have paid someone to kill his wife, as the charges now claim.
Nobody gave him a problem inside, Hooven said. Even the corrections officers called him “Doc.”
Kauffman would read books and, at night, play Hearts with Hooven and two others. “Doc” mostly won. And he always was laughing.
The inmates would ask about the weapons charges: “He was all for answering questions.”
Kauffman told them that every one of his guns was legally registered, and everything he did was legal.
And when a new story would come out about the case, “Doc” would say, “Look, I’m in the paper again.”
No one ever asked about April Kauffman’s killing, assuming the death would be “a touchy subject” for her widower.
“He had me fooled, to be honest,” Hooven said. “He said he wanted to take me to Arizona. I’m ready to go ride a Corvette or Harley Davidson up a mountain with him.”
Kauffman has a home in Arizona, which was purchased with money from his drug partnership with the Pagans Motorcycle Club, according to an affidavit in the case.
Kauffman was in the work pod for a short time, but had a bad back or knee that moved him back to the annex where Hooven was.
There was always money on Kauffman’s books so he had everything he wanted, and would often share with the other inmates, Hooven said. And he always had visits from his new wife, Carole Weintraub, and others.
Each inmate can have up to two visitors each weekend day. But a person can only visit once a week.
“His slots were always full,” Hooven said.
Kauffman is now in the Hudson County Correction Facility in Kearny, where he was taken after investigators learned his alleged partner, Freddy Augello, was planning to have Kauffman killed to keep him from possibly turning informant, according to the charges.
Kauffman is in “close custody,” said James Kennelly, Hudson County spokesman.
It’s housing in a single cell, where he will be held for 30 days pending a classification review. That review will dictate his housing assignment.
He is permitted to have a weekly visit and unlimited professional visits, Kennelly said.
Kauffman has noticeably aged in the seven months since his June 13 arrest.
His once dyed hair is now snow white. The lines in his face much deeper and more pronounced. When he was into court Thursday, he was hunched over and walked with a shuffle.
“When I saw a picture of him today, I was like, Oh my God, what happened?” Hooven said. “He’s getting old.”
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner had a response to that for a reporter Thursday.
“I would imagine that being incarcerated since June, for a man of his age, those conditions are much different than spending time at his Arizona retreat house,” Tyner said of the 68-year-old man. “Not having access to Grecian Formula and things of that nature, that could pose an issue for someone that cares about their appearance.”
Everyone called him Doc.