James Kauffman, husband of murdered NJ radio host, found dead in jail cell; suicide suspected

KEARNY, N.J. -- Dr. James Kauffman, a suspect in the killing of his radio host wife and an alleged participant in a drug ring involving a motorcycle gang, has been found dead.

A Hudson County Correctional Center spokesperson confirmed Kauffman was found dead of an apparent suicide at 9:20 a.m. Friday.

Sources tell Action News Kauffman left a lengthy note. He was found face down with a sheet around his neck, sources say.

Kauffman was awaiting trial on charges that he arranged for his wife, radio host and activist April Kauffman, to be murdered in 2012 so she wouldn't expose the drug ring.

James Kauffman, 68, had been charged with murder and racketeering for his involvement in both the drug ring involving the Pagans Motorcycle Club and the killing of April Kauffman.

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Authorities allege murder-for-hire plot. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News Mornings on January 10, 2018.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said during a news conference earlier this month that it all began back in 2011 as April Kauffman threatened a divorce.

Investigators say she threatened to spend as much money as she could until a divorce was granted, and threatened to expose the drug operation.

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Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner announces charges against James Kauffman during a news conference on January 9, 2018.

James Kauffman and a friend, 61-year-old Ferdinand Augello - a member of the Pagans - began looking for a hitman at that time, investigators said.

"James Kauffman stated he would sooner kill April than grant the divorce and lose 'half his empire,'" the prosecutor's office said.

It took nearly a year, but Tyner said a hitman was eventually found. That man is identified as Francis Mulholland. Authorities said Mulholland is an associate of Joseph Mulholland, an alleged member of the drug enterprise.

Investigators say it was Francis Mulholland who entered the Kauffman's home in Linwood and shot April Kauffman twice, killing her.

The prosecutor said Mulholland was paid at least $20,000 in cash, though that number could be higher. Francis Mulholland has since died of a drug overdose.

Kauffman and Augello are charged with murder and racketeering.

April Kauffman's only child, Kimberly Pack, addressed the media after the charges were announced.

"The details that emerged today I was not privy to, so it was hard to watch. It leaves you without words, just a gut-wrenching thing," she said.

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April Kauffman's daughter addresses media after her stepfather, James Kauffman, was charged with murder on January 9, 2018.

Along with James Kauffman, Ferdinand Augello and Joseph Mulholland, five others have also been charged with their alleged roles in the drug operation Kauffman is accused of running out of his Egg Harbor Township medical practice.

Investigators say Kauffman continued to run the drug operation even after his wife's murder. That all ended after his arrest in June, 2017 on weapons charges.

That incident, included a standoff with police when authorities executed a search warrant at his office.

Dramatic body camera video from police showed him pulling a weapon and threatening to kill himself. Defense attorney Ed Jacobs said his client was reacting in fear that he was being arrested for the murder of his late wife April Kauffman during the June incident.

Jacobs says Kauffman told this to police at the time: "I'm not going to go to jail for something I didn't do."

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Body cam video shows standoff with James Kauffman. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on June 19, 2017.

April Kauffman was a local businesswoman who hosted weekly talk shows and advocated for military veterans. She had received a governor's award for outstanding community service a few days before her death.
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