Joseph Mulholland

Joseph Mulholland, rear, 53, of the Villas section of Lower Township, said he got OxyContin prescriptions from now-deceased Dr. James Kauffman and then sold them to Ferdinand "Freddy" Augello, with whom he rode motorcycles, six or seven times. With him is attorney Ed Weinstock.

MAYS LANDING — Joseph Mulholland stood with his hands clasped in front of him Thursday morning as he admitted to his part in the opioid drug ring connected to the 2012 death of radio host and veterans advocate April Kauffman.

Mulholland, 52, of the Villas section of Lower Township, pleaded guilty to second-degree racketeering before Judge Bernard E. DeLury in Atlantic County Superior Court. As part of the plea deal, he will testify during the trial and could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in state prison.

Mulholland said he got OxyContin prescriptions from now-deceased Dr. James Kauffman and then sold them to Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, with whom he rode motorcycles, six or seven times. He described himself as “a worker” when asked by DeLury to explain his role in the scheme’s hierarchy.

Asked what Augello’s role was, Mulholland said: “He was the boss.”

Augello, 62, of Upper Township, an alleged Pagans motorcycle gang leader, is charged with murder and accused of hiring a hitman to kill April Kauffman — a move prosecutors say was motivated by husband James Kauffman’s desire to hide the drug ring he ran through his Egg Harbor Township medical practice with Augello, who pleaded not guilty during his arraignment April 19.

Augello’s public defender, Mary Linehan, was not surprised that Mulholland entered into the plea deal and said it doesn’t change anything for her client.

“Mulholland had been cooperating with the state for a while,” she said. “He gave statements to police that he was the driver for the man that was alleged to have killed April Kauffman.”

Francis Mulholland, whom authorities pegged as the hitman in the killing, died in October 2013. The two Mulhollands are not related.

Linehan said she suspected Joseph Mulholland was already cooperating with the state because he was never indicted in April Kauffman’s death.

“My client has already provided statements,” Ed Weinstock, Mulholland’s attorney, said after the conference. “It’s no secret what his involvement was.”

Mulholland’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 25 before DeLury.

Augello was also scheduled for a status conference Thursday morning before DeLury but waived his right to appear.

DeLury has still not received a copy of the purported suicide note left by James Kauffman after he was found dead of an apparent suicide Jan. 9 in jail in Hudson County. Several of the attorneys on the case have requested to see the note, but DeLury said he wants to review it before entering it into evidence.

Augello is scheduled for a pretrial conference July 19, and a trial is set for Sept. 11.

Asked whether the plea deal will affect the other defendants, Weinstock said that’s up to the other defendants and their attorneys.

Five other defendants in the case pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, distribution of drugs and conspiracy to distribute drugs as part of the drug ring: Beverly Augello, 48, of Summerland Key, Florida; Glenn Seeler, 38, of Sanford, North Carolina; Paul Pagano, 51, of Egg Harbor Township; Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon; and Cheryl Pizza, 37, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Chapman, Beverly Augello, Seeler and Pagano are scheduled for status conferences at 9 a.m. July 26, while co-defendant Pizza is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. that same day.

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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