Lower Township resident Annie Kniatt always believed Francis Mulholland was a horrible neighbor.

But she never thought the man she had numerous angry confrontations with was a killer.

“That’s creepy,” Kniatt said Wed-nesday. “I could have been killed.”

Mulholland, now dead, has been identified by prosecutors as the hitman hired by Dr. James Kauffman to kill his wife.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner on Tuesday announced charges against Kauffman and seven others, all members or associates of a motorcycle gang, for racketeering and murder.

The charges were the culmination of more than five years of suspicion and speculation surrounding the death of April Kauffman, a radio talk show host and veterans advocate found shot to death in her home in May 2012.

Kniatt said Mulholland was an angry and abusive neighbor.

He once drove his truck down a crowded street at a high rate of speed, he verbally attacked the mail woman and he tried to steal neighbors’ mail.

One time, he showed up in front of Kniatt’s door covered in his own blood.

“If you ever have anyone walk up to you with blood all over them, you’ll never forget it. ... You’ll never forget the smell,” she said.

As the community reels from the news that Kauffman allegedly hired a hitman to kill April, more details are emerging about the Pagan motorcycle gang members involved in the killing and the opioid drug ring.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said that long before April Kauffman died, Dr. Kauffman partnered with alleged Pagan leader Ferdinand “Fred” Augello to distribute opioid painkillers such as oxycodone out of Kauffman’s medical office.

Tyner has not revealed how the partnership between Kauffman and Augello formed, but the allegation of a drug ring involving Kauffman and a motorcycle gang surprised many, even as the charges were being announced.

Once viewed as the most powerful motorcycle gang in New Jersey, the Pagans’ influence has ebbed and flowed through the years. In the 1980s, the outlaw bikers were deeply involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine but also worked as enforcers for the mob, former State Police Col. Clinton Pagano told The Press.

Augello, 61, of the Petersburg section of Upper Township, was arrested Tuesday along with seven others, including Kauffman, and charged with the murder of April Kauffman, racketeering, as well as conspiring to kill Dr. Kauffman. Dr. Kauffman’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs, did not respond to a request for comment.

In Absecon, residents on Pennsylvania Avenue know Augello as “Freddie,” a custom guitar maker and local musician who played in Who Dat Band, which performed at local casinos and bars, as well as the Atlantic City Seafood Festival.

Neighbors were in disbelief he is being charged.

Drew Dvorsky, 54, also a local guitarist, said he was never in a band with Augello but had seen him around.

“I don’t know him that well,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. Who figured it was going to be like that?”

Dvorsky said a break in the case was a long time coming.

“I’m glad they’re finally getting closure, hopefully,” he said of the family. “At least there’s going to be an end in sight instead of nothing.”

Margie Fishman, 56, has heard Augello play locally but would never have guessed he would be involved in the case.

“I would not ever in a million years think of that,” she said. “I can’t see it.”

According to records, Augello owned Freddymade Guitars and Graphics on Route 9 in the Seaville section of Upper Township. Press archives show he was also a Native American re-enactor.

The prosecutor alleges it was Augello who, after almost a year of trying, found Francis “Frank” Mulholland to carry out the murder of April Kauffman. Mulholland, 46, died in October 2013 from a drug overdose, according to Tyner. Public records show his last known address on West Jacksonville Road in the Villas section of Lower Township. Lower Township police confirmed officers there responded to a death at the residence in October 2013.

Neighbors in that area remember an angry man who acted erratically in the last year of his life.

Tyner said Mulholland, while not a Pagans member, was an associate of the motorcycle gang.

Other Pagan members or associates arrested Monday and charged with racketeering were Joseph Mulholland, 52, of Villas (no relation to Francis Mulholland); Paul Pagano, 61, of Egg Harbor Township; Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon; Augello’s ex-wife Beverly Augello, 47, of Summerland Keys, Florida; and Glenn Seeler, 37, of Sanford, North Carolina. Also charged was Cheryl Pizza, 36, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

A 2010 report from State Police shows the Pagans gang active in New Jersey. Seventy-nine local police departments reported Pagans activity in their towns, up 39 percent from 2007. But only a quarter of towns with Pagans presence reported violence or thefts associated with the gang.

A map shows a concentration in Atlantic and Cape May counties but that many of the towns have fewer than 10 members. In the 2007 Street Gang Survey, Buena Vista Township, Middle Township and Wildwood all reported active recruiting or serious problems with the Pagans.

The Pagans’ presence is almost always noted at the annual Roar to the Shore motorcycle event in Wildwood. The problem with motorcycle gangs is so serious that the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office holds an annual training conference ahead of Roar to the Shore for local law enforcement.

In 2015, there was an issue at the Wildwood rally between members of the Pagans motorcycle club and the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club that police said was defused with the help of the Wildwood City Fire Department, which used a truck to separate the clubs.

Linwood’s connection to the Pagans can be traced to the 1980s, when Kenneth Weaver, a former Linwood city councilman, served as president of the Atlantic City Pagans chapter before his imprisonment, according to archives.

Kauffman, Augello, Joseph Mulholland, Pagano and Chapman are all scheduled to make an initial appearance on these charges before Judge Bernard DeLury on Thursday at the Atlantic County Criminal Complex in Mays Landing.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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