MAYS LANDING — Joseph Mulholland, the first of seven co-defendants to admit to his part in the opioid drug ring connected to the 2012 death of radio host and veterans advocate April Kauffman, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.

Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. denied Mulholland’s request Friday for a suspended sentence. DeLury decided instead to lower Mulholland’s charges by one degree.

“Mr. Mulholland, thankfully, in his present state is showing a different face to the world, to his friends, to his community. For that, society should be grateful,” DeLury said. “For the face he showed on the days in question, that are the subject of this conviction, are different.”

Ed Weinstock, Mulholland’s attorney, said his client had “a story of redemption,” having stayed sober since he checked himself into a rehab center in July 2013 after abusing drugs and alcohol for more than 30 years.

The courtroom benches were filled with about 15 people from Mulholland’s recovery network, including Mulholland’s AA sponsor and two men with a total of six years’ sobriety together who said Mulholland mentored them.

In arguing for a suspended sentence, Weinstock said Mulholland risked his life to testify.

“Anyone (who) thinks that his life won’t be at all in jeopardy for doing what he did, I think, quite frankly, is putting blinders on,” he said.

He also said Mulholland, 53, had no prior felonies and prison time would be a hardship considering his client’s health issues, which include heart disease.

“I put myself away,” Mulholland said before he was sentenced. “I’m trying to stay sober and clean. I just want to say I’m sorry I got involved with what I got involved with.”

Prosecutor Seth Levy acknowledged Mulholland was cooperative and his support in court Friday was overwhelming, but he reminded DeLury of Mulholland’s actions in the 2012 murder, including driving hitman Francis Mulholland — no relation — to the scene.

“That caused a lot of tragedy, and I think that at a sentencing like this, that needs to be said, that needs to be heard, it needs to be taken into your honor’s consideration.”

Mulholland’s longtime girlfriend, Bonnie Kennedy, said she did not expect DeLury to grant a suspended sentence, but she accepts the outcome.

“It’s over. I’m just glad it’s over, and so is Joe,” she said after the sentencing. “Everybody can kind of close the book now.”

Mulholland pleaded guilty to second-degree racketeering in June. He told DeLury he would get oxycodone from April Kauffman’s husband, James Kauffman, and sell it to Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, the former Pagans motorcycle gang leader who was convicted of April’s murder in October.

Prosecutors said April Kauffman had threatened to expose her husband’s illegal activities, including the drug ring run out of his Egg Harbor Township medical practice, which led him to hire Augello to have her killed.

Mulholland is the latest co-defendant to be sentenced in the drug ring. On Thursday, Beverly Augello, 49, of Summerland Key, Florida, was sentenced to two concurrent five-year sentences for her role in the opioid ring and a separate charge for possession of cocaine. Those sentences will only be served if she re-offends during the next five years.

Also Thursday, sentencing for drug-ring co-defendant Glenn “Slasher” Seeler, 38, of Sanford, North Carolina, was postponed until Feb. 19.

Staff Writer Molly Bilinski contributed to this report.