MAYS LANDING — Joseph Mulholland said he was scared of Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, which is why he agreed to drive alleged hitman Francis Mulholland to Linwood in the early morning hours of May 10, 2012, to kill April Kauffman.

“He told me if I didn’t drive him, I was dead,” Joseph Mulholland told jurors Monday. “I feared for my life.”

Joseph Mulholland, 52, of the Villas section of Lower Township, was the third witness to take the stand Monday for the start of the second week of the April Kauffman murder trial. He was charged with racketeering in the case and was the first co-defendant to take a plea agreement in exchange for testimony during the trial.

Augello, 62, of Upper Township, is charged with the murder of April Kauffman, conspiracy to murder April’s husband, James Kauffman, and leading a drug distribution network out of James Kauffman’s medical office. He has maintained his innocence.

James Kauffman, 68, who was also charged in the death, died in jail in January. Francis Mulholland, 46, of Villas, the alleged hitman, died from a heroin overdose in October 2013.

Joseph Mulholland’s testimony Monday detailed the events that led to the early morning killing of veterans advocate and radio host April Kauffman, 47, as well as his relationships with Augello, Francis Mulholland and James Kauffman.

Mulholland said that Augello and April Kauffman knew each other, went to dinner a couple of times and had “an intimate” relationship, according to what Augello had told him.

Mulholland testified that he didn’t want to kill April Kauffman, so he declined not just a $10,000 offer from Augello in fall 2011, but also an offer from James Kauffman for 10 times that amount that same year.

“That ain’t my style,” he told Atlantic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy on why he declined the offer.

He did, however, accept $1,000 from Francis Mulholland for driving him to Linwood that morning.

At times during Mulholland’s testimony, Augello reacted visibly. He leaned back and laughed as Mulholland recounted his fear of Augello, and muttered inaudibly during Mulholland’s testimony regarding a letter written by Kauffman’s attorney Ed Jacobs, which named Augello as a person of interest.

Mulholland, a painter, said he met Augello, a local musician and signmaker, through their associations with the Pagans motorcycle gang. He was a member of the support club, The Herd, and Augello was president of the Cape May County chapter.

On cross examination from defense attorney Mary Linehan, Mulholland said he had gone to James Kauffman as a patient for his diabetes, at the suggestion from his primary care doctor in 2011. However, during his testimony before Levy, Mulholland said it was Augello who initially sent him to see Kauffman to participate in an OxyContin prescription drug ring.

Joseph Mulholland consistently has said that he and Francis Mulholland were only friends, not relatives, although they joked that they were cousins. At one point, after Joseph Mulholland returned from a drug rehab in September 2013, he was fighting with his wife and moved in briefly with Francis Mulholland. He said he was clean from drugs, but filled an OxyContin prescription from James Kauffman as a way to pay back Augello for money he owed him.

One month later, Francis Mulholland was found dead in that same Villas home and multiple pill bottles belonging to Joseph Mulholland were recovered from the scene, which Linehan asked him about Monday. Joseph Mulholland testified that he wasn’t sure where all of the bottles came from.

He said when Augello found out Francis Mulholland was dead, Augello “just smirked.”

Other testimony Monday came from Beverly Augello, ex-wife and former business partner of Ferdinand Augello.

Beverly Augello, 48, of Summerland Key, Florida, was also charged with racketeering and pleaded guilty to lesser charges in August in exchange for her testimony. She said she picked up an envelope from James Kauffman, her doctor, on the morning of April Kauffman’s death, May 10, 2012, at the request of her ex-husband, with whom she was still in business, but she never looked inside to see what it contained.

According to Beverly Augello, it was April Kauffman who convinced the doctor to take her on as a patient, pro bono, due to chronic health problems and lack of insurance. Beverly Augello said she was connected with April through Ferdinand Augello’s uncle, a veteran who knew her.

FBI Special Agent John Hauger served as the state’s expert on cell tower analysis and placed in Upper Township several phone calls between a phone that purportedly belonged to Ferdinand Augello and one belonging to James Kauffman from April 30 to May 9, 2012. Hauger admitted he could not give an exact location for the phone at the times of the calls, and he also could not say who was in possession of the phone at the time the calls were made.

The trial will continue Tuesday with testimony from a law enforcement official and possibly former Pagans member Glenn Seeler and his ex-wife Cheryl Pizza, in addition to former Pagans member Joseph Drinhouser.

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.