NJ lawyer accused in witness death

(AP) - A defense attorney and former federalprosecutor whose clients have included rap stars and a soldier atthe Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was charged Wednesday with arrangingthe killing of one witness

News 12 Staff

May 21, 2009, 3:16 AM

Updated 5,542 days ago

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(AP) - A defense attorney and former federalprosecutor whose clients have included rap stars and a soldier atthe Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was charged Wednesday with arrangingthe killing of one witness and trying to hire a hit man to killanother.
Paul Bergrin is accused of murder, conspiracy to commit murderand racketeering in a 14-count federal indictment.
Four others also are named in the indictment as participants inan alleged racketeering conspiracy that prosecutors characterizedas a criminal enterprise that also engaged in witness tampering,money laundering and drug trafficking.
"He employed every illegal tool available to keep murderers anddrug dealers on our streets," acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marrasaid of Bergrin. "His mantra was, 'No witness, no case."'
Bergrin has represented Lil' Kim, Queen Latifah and other rapstars. He also represented Sgt. Javal S. Davis, a New Jerseysoldier who served about four months in a military prison in 2005for mistreating Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Bergrin, 53, is a former Essex County Assistant Prosecutor whoalso worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Newark between 1985and 1990. Marra said Wednesday there was no indication that any ofthe cases Bergrin worked on as a prosecutor were compromised.Through a spokesman, the two remaining attorneys for the EssexCounty Prosecutor's Office who worked with Bergrin declinedcomment.
Prosecutors say Bergrin gave the name of a federal informant toassociates of a suspect Bergrin was defending in a drug case. Theinformant, known by the nickname "Kemo," was shot three times ona Newark street in 2004 by one of the associates, according to theindictment.
The other murder plot outlined in the indictment involved a 2008drug case in which Bergrin is alleged to have had numerousconversations with a confidential informant about killing a man,known as "Junior the Panamanian," who was scheduled to testifyagainst his client.
Bergrin has been no stranger to controversy over the last twodecades. In the early 1990s he was indicted for evidence tamperingwhile serving as a defense lawyer. Those charges ultimately weredismissed.
Two weeks ago, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy topromote prostitution in exchange for three years probation and a$50,000 money forfeiture.


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