It’s been two months since the trial in the 2012 murder of April Kauffman came to a close. This coming week, the man charged in her death will likely learn his fate.
In October, a jury found Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, 62, of Upper Township, guilty on six charges: April Kauffman’s murder, conspiracy to murder James Kauffman and four charges related to running an illegal opioid ring out of James Kauffman’s medical practice. James Kauffman, 68, was also charged in the murder of his wife, but died in an apparent jail suicide in late January.
As of Friday, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury was scheduled to sentence Augello on Wednesday at the criminal complex in Mays Landing.
Augello’s attorney Mary Linehan declined to comment but said last month she had filed a motion for a new trial that would be heard the same day.
Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Donna Weaver did not respond to a request for comment.
The notice of motion, filed Oct. 5, states that Linehan would ask DeLury for an “order granting a new trial based on the fact that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.”
In a supporting letter brief dated Nov. 21, Linehan notes that two days after the verdict, complaints were made public from one current and two former Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office employees alleging violations in the Kauffman case.
“The defendant seeks to call the two former and one current employee of the Prosecutor’s Office as witnesses in the new trial motion,” the brief reads. “The witnesses the defendant plans to call have publicly stated that the evidence that was withheld by the Prosecutor’s office falls squarely within the Brady requirements,” a term for potentially exculpatory evidence.
But on Friday, DeLury decided the current and former employees could not testify, their attorney, Michelle Douglass, confirmed Saturday, because the complaint was a letter and not sworn testimony or statements.
The Nov. 21 letter also asks the court to consider Augello’s lack of a past criminal record in his sentencing if a new trial is not granted.
Augello seems to be holding out hope for a chance at leniency. Through a surrogate, as he has no internet access from jail, Augello has been asking supporters on Facebook to write letters on his behalf, according to a post on his Facebook page dated Nov. 21.
Former Atlantic County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Lloyd Levenson, who is now a defense attorney, said that in addition to the charges and mandatory minimum sentences, DeLury will consider the defendant’s pre-sentence report, which will include the character letters Augello has requested his supporters write, when he sentences Augello.
“That’s sort of your background, everything from birth to how you grew up, what your relationship was with your family, any criminal background,” Levenson said.
He said the defense attorney and the defendant also have a chance to review the report.
“Sometimes it’s helpful when someone finally comes to grips with the fact that they did something, they’re remorseful,” Levenson said.
Augello, a signmaker, musician and retired member of the Pagans motorcycle club, has maintained his innocence despite the conviction in interviews with The Press, letters to the newspaper and on social media.
“I’ve murdered no one, sir,” Augello wrote in a recent letter to The Press of Atlantic City. “I’ve been convicted of arranging the murder of Mrs. Kauffman with Francis Mulholland, a man I hardly knew and actually never held a conversation with more than to say, ‘Hello, Frank. How’s it going?’”
A collection of front pages from the April Kauffman story
Levenson said the state has a chance to bring in character witnesses during the sentencing. April Kauffman’s daughter, Kim Pack, who did not comment about the sentencing, said she planned to give a statement Wednesday.
Levenson said that in this case, Augello is facing life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 30 years in jail. He said the judge cannot just decide to sentence him for less time.
“With a normal defendant, you would get as many character letters as you could get. This is not normal here,” he said.