MAYS LANDING — One of the four remaining co-defendants yet to be sentenced in the April Kauffman murder case was accepted into the court’s pretrial intervention program last week.
Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon, was scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7 after she pleaded guilty in August to third-degree conspiracy to possess drugs, specifically the narcotic pain reliever OxyContin.
Her attorney, James Grimley, confirmed Thursday his client would participate in the diversion program. Pretrial intervention lets eligible defendants avoid trial and provides rehabilitative services to deter future criminal behavior, according to the state courts website.
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Chapman was one of eight people — including retired Pagans leader Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, 62, of Upper Township and endocrinologist Dr. James Kauffman, of Linwood — charged in 2018 with racketeering related to local veterans advocate April Kauffman’s 2012 murder.
Prosecutors said Chapman and others received and sold prescription opioids through a drug ring operated by Augello and James Kauffman. Augello and James Kauffman were charged with April’s murder. Augello was additionally charged with conspiracy to commit the murder of James Kauffman.
“It’s really a credit to Tabitha. As I viewed the case, she was victimized by Augello. He preyed on her naivety, got her addicted to opioids and, to her credit, on her own she was able to conquer that addiction,” Grimley said. “She has been clean now for years.”
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Grimley said Chapman is glad the case is over and will quietly complete the conditions of her PTI.
“It’s a tragedy all the way around,” Grimley said.
Two weeks after the charges, James Kauffman, 68, was found hanged in his jail cell in Hudson County. In October, a jury found Augello guilty of murder and racketeering. He was sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison.
Two of the other co-defendants have also learned their fate. Cheryl Pizza, 37, of South Carolina, who also pleaded guilty to drug charges, received a three-year suspended sentence in December, meaning she will be sent to prison if she re-offends during that period.
Paul Pagano, 52, of Egg Harbor Township, who was set to go to trial this year, pleaded guilty in January to a lesser disorderly conduct charge. He will serve no prison time.
Three other co-defendants, who all pleaded guilty over the summer to drug charges related to the case, are still scheduled to be sentenced next week: Augello’s ex-wife Beverly Augello, 48, of Florida; Glenn Seeler, 38, of North Carolina; and Joseph Mulholland, 53, of Lower Township.