Doctor Ordered His Wife's Killing After She Threatened to Reveal His Opioid Ring: Prosecutor

A New Jersey doctor has been charged with hiring a hit man to kill his wife.
April Kauffman was shot to death in 2012. Her husband, Dr. James Kauffman, has been charged with ordering her killing.Facebook/Atlantic County Jail

Dr. James Kauffman feared his wife was going to tell authorities about his illegal drug operation, authorities said.

A New Jersey physician has been charged with murder after allegedly ordering the killing of his wife, who was seeking a divorce and threatening to expose his illegal opioid ring, prosecutors said.

April Kauffman was shot to death in her bedroom more than five years ago. On Tuesday, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said the woman's husband, James Kauffman, feared she would go to police about his longstanding ties to the Pagan's Motorcycle Club, which helped the endocrinologist operate an illegal prescription drug network.

Kauffman was also charged with conspiracy and racketeering. He has not entered a plea and is being held without bond at the Atlantic County Jail.

Also charged was Ferdinand Augello, who allegedly helped Kauffman run the narcotics enterprise and hired a hit man to kill the doctor's wife when she threatened to expose them, authorities said.

Kauffman wrote prescriptions for oxycodone to people referred by Augello, authorities said. In turn, those people would recruit others to obtain prescriptions from Kauffman, Tyner said. Those with prescriptions would either sell the pills or take them, the prosecutor said.

Augello, at the behest of Kauffman, solicited a number of people to kill the doctor's wife, Tyner said. All were members of, or associated with, the outlaw biker gang, the prosecutor said.

It took nearly a year to find an agreeable hit man, Tyner said. Eventually, Francis Mulholland, a member of the drug enterprise, was paid at least $20,000 to kill April Kauffman, which he did by shooting her twice inside the Kauffman home, Tyner said.

Mulholland died of a drug overdose in 2013, authorities said.

Last June, police and FBI agents launched a raid on Kauffman's home and medical practice. Kauffman pointed a 9mm Ruger handgun at officers and a hostage negotiator was brought in, Tyner said.

The doctor later surrendered to authorities, who charged him with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and obstruction of the administration of law, the prosecutor said. 

He pleaded not guilty to those charges, but was ordered held without bond pending trial.