MAYS LANDING — During a fishing trip in the summer of 2012, Francis Mulholland pointed to a picture of April Kauffman and told his nephew that he’d killed the radio host and veterans advocate for money, jurors in the murder trial of Ferdinand Augello were told Wednesday.

But Timothy Sarzynski never told authorities until this year after charges were announced.

“We stopped at a Wawa, he brought out a magazine cover and pointed to a picture on it and said he did that,” Sarzynski told the jury during the eighth day of the trial.

Sarzynski identified the person on the cover as Kauffman. He said he didn’t report it because he didn’t believe his uncle, who he said often made up stories.

“He told me he walked into her bedroom, shot her twice in the back of the head and was paid $50,000 to do so,” Sarzynski said.

Sarzynski of Levittown, Pennsylvania, was one of several new witnesses to take the stand Wednesday and give testimony relevant to the murder of Kauffman but nothing related to the man on trial, Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello.

Augello, 62, is accused of hiring Mulholland to kill April Kauffman in 2012 at the request of her husband, James Kauffman. Mulholland, 46, died in October 2013 of a drug overdose in his home in Lower Township.

According to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, James Kauffman, a local endocrinologist, and Augello, a sign maker and retired Pagans motorcycle gang member, were involved in an OxyContin drug ring that April found out about and threatened to expose.

To avoid a costly divorce and keep her quiet, the doctor paid Augello thousands of dollars to find someone to kill his wife.

Augello is also charged with conspiring to kill James Kauffman while he was in jail in late 2017, and also with racketeering for his role in the drug ring.

The prosecution rolled quickly through its witness list on Wednesday morning.

Detective Sgt. Ian Finnimore of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office took the stand and detailed the scene he encountered when he arrived at Woodstock Drive in Linwood on the afternoon of May 10, 2012, the day April Kauffman was found dead in her bedroom.

Finnimore said that as a forensic investigator at the time, he took photos of the crime scene and of the autopsy that day. April Kauffman was lying face down with her head facing the doorway when he entered the master bedroom, and he noticed small patches of blood on the side of the white bed sheets and on the carpet, Finnimore told the jury.

Finnimore said there were very little signs of struggle except for a water bottle and lotion bottle knocked over on her wooden nightstand, and the glass topper slightly askew.

Two bullets were recovered from April’s body during the autopsy by former Atlantic County Medical Examiner Hydow Park, he said. Park has since died.

The prosecution showed photographs to the jury that Finnimore took of the crime scene, including one of April’s body and a close up of the nightstand, which also contained two cell phones, a television remote, a pair of tweezers, a gold lamp and a mirrored jewelry box.

During cross-examination, Augello’s attorney, Mary Linehan, asked Finnimore about the Prosecutor’s Office obtaining three other forensic experts to review the autopsy information after Park.

According to Linehan, after Park’s report, the Prosecutor’s Office obtained noted pathologist Dr. Michael Baden in June 2012; forensic pathologist Donald Jason, who worked in Atlantic County in the 1980s, in June 2017 and most recently Delaware medical examiner Gary Collins.

“Would it surprise you if somebody rendered an opinion on a forensic matter without reviewing all the photographs that were available?” Linehan asked Finnimore.

“I can’t speak for other experts when I write expert opinion reports. I put in what I reviewed,” he replied.

Finnimore said when he is giving expert opinions, he would want to see all the photographs available.

The final witness of the day was Lee Darby, who described her and April Kauffman as “best friends” since the 1980s.

Darby, of Absecon, was also in business with April as part of a catering company. Darby testified that she spent most of every week with April for the last four years of her life, and frequently stayed at the Kauffmans’ home overnight.

Both Darby and fellow witness Julia Loftus said James Kauffman was controlling and they often called him “Perimeter Pete.”

“He was obsessive about security of the house,” said Loftus, April’s former sister-in-law with whom she maintained a close relationship.

Loftus, who sometimes house sat for the Kauffmans, said the doctor liked to keep the doors locked and only entered and exited through the garage, although Darby said sometimes the family would use the front door. Loftus described large amounts of cash in the home, mostly in $20 bills.

When asked to describe April and James Kauffman’s marriage, Darby said it was “volatile.”

“It was very rocky. He would be real sweet and endearing and then turn on a dime and be vicious and nasty,” Darby said describing their relationship during the summer of 2011.

April and James Kauffman married on Feb. 14, 2002.

Seven years later, April told her friends that she wanted a divorce. Loftus said she “regrettably” told April she would have to wait 10 years to secure alimony.

Darby said James Kauffman instead told April he “would kill her before he gives her half his empire.”

Darby said that in the late winter and spring of 2012, April Kauffman told Darby she was “holding something over his head that he would give her the divorce.”

She said that information included his fake military service and “financial things.”

Also testifying Wednesday was Mary Ann Sokalski, an employee of James Kauffman who said that the doctor rarely treated patients for pain.

Testimony on Wednesday was scheduled to include Collins and former co-defendant Cheryl Pizza, but Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy said Collins and Pizza were unable to make it.

The trial will resume Thursday with Kauffman’s former colleague, nurse practitioner Barbara Greenling, and the lead detective on the case, James Scoppa. Collins and Pizza will also testify.

Contact: 609-272-7251 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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