MAYS LANDING — The last co-defendant charged in the alleged opioid ring run out of Dr. James Kauffman’s Egg Harbor Township office is heading to trial.
Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury decided Friday that Paul Pagano, 52, of Egg Harbor Township, will have a separate trial from Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello after no plea deal was reached.
Pagano, an alleged Pagans motorcycle gang leader, is charged with racketeering, distribution of drugs and conspiracy to distribute drugs.
After a conference in DeLury’s chambers with Pagano’s attorney, Charles Peruto Jr. of Philadelphia, and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy, DeLury announced there was no plea agreement and “the matter is not now ripe for a plea.”
Levy then moved to sever Pagano’s case from that of Augello, who is the only other remaining co-defendant going to trial.
“In this case, a separate trial appears to be in the interest of justice,” DeLury said. “First, this defendant’s culpability in the matter is not as great as that alleged against Mr. Augello. Second, this defendant’s trial preparation and strategy has been different and is not fairly to be pressed to trial at this point.”
Most of the evidence against Pagano appears to be “inferential and circumstantial,” DeLury said, adding it could be a distraction to both the state’s prosecution and the defense in Augello’s case.
Pagano is scheduled to appear before DeLury for a pretrial conference at 10 a.m. Nov. 2.
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Augello, 62, of Upper Township, is charged with the murder of April Kauffman, attempted murder of James Kauffman, leading a drug-trafficking network, distribution of drugs and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Jury selection in Augello’s trial is to begin Sept. 11.
The co-defendants who have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify at Augello’s trial include:
Beverly Augello, 48, of Summerland Key, Florida
Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon
Glenn Seeler, 38, of Sanford, North Carolina
Cheryl Pizza, 37, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Joseph Mulholland, 52, of the Villas section of Lower Township