MAYS LANDING — Dr. James Kauffman’s suicide note has become the most sought after piece of evidence so far in the murder of his wife, April.
Attorneys for three defendants in the case said Thursday they plan to join in a request to view the purported note left by James Kauffman before he died in January in a Hudson County jail cell.
Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury told the attorneys representing Tabitha Chapman, Beverly Augello and Glenn Seeler during a status conference that he has requested a copy of the note from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, but has yet to receive it.
Once he reviews the letter, he will decide whether it can become a part of the discovery.
“I haven’t ruled on it. But if I rule on it, obviously you’ll be made aware of the ruling. It would affect all parties in the case,” DeLury said.
Chapman, 35, of Absecon; Augello, 48, of Summerland Key, Florida; and Seeler, 37, of Sanford, North Carolina, have all pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, distribution of drugs and conspiracy to distribute drugs in the case that included murder-for-hire and an opioid drug ring allegedly run out of James Kauffman’s Egg Harbor Township endocrinology office.
Prosecutors say Kauffman conspired with Beverly Augello’s ex-husband, alleged Cape May County Pagans motorcycle club leader Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, 62, of Upper Township, to hire a hitman to kill radio host and veterans advocate April Kauffman, 47, inside the Kauffmans’ Linwood home in May 2012.
Two weeks after the charges were announced, James Kauffman died.
Open Public Records Act requests by The Press of Atlantic City to view the letter he wrote prior to his death have been denied, on the grounds it was addressed to Kauffman’s wife, Carole Weintraub of Philadelphia, and his attorney Edwin Jacobs of Atlantic City.
Last week, Mary Linehan, the public defender representing Freddy Augello, requested to see a non-redacted copy of the note, but DeLury said he wants to see it before deciding to enter it into evidence.
During Thursday’s status conference, Chapman’s attorney, Jim Grimley, asked for additional evidence, including the grand jury transcripts, Chapman’s medical records from Kauffman’s office, which were seized by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and about 4,000 pages of additional discovery he said he has not seen from Atlantic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy.
Beverly Augello’s attorney, Hal Kokes, and Seeler’s attorney, Timothy Reilly, said they are also joining the the application for the note. Kokes said he was picking up a “substantial” packet of additional discovery from Levy’s office Friday.
During the conference, Kokes revealed his client was detained in the county jail for several days this spring on an old warrant from her initial arrest in January. That arrest led to a positive drug test for what Kokes said was “trace amounts” of an illegal substance. Kokes said pretrial services decided not to adjust Augello’s detention status.
Beverly Augello has been accused of handling the money James Kauffman paid Freddy Augello to hire the hitman, Francis Mulholland, of the Villas section of Lower Township, according to affidavits in the case.
Chapman, Augello, Seeler and co-defendant Paul Pagano, 51, of Egg Harbor Township, are scheduled for status conferences at 9 a.m. July 26, while co-defendant Cheryl Pizza, 36, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. that same day.
Another co-defendant in the case, Joseph Mulholland, is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. June 21.