It was a notorious murder whose long tentacles found their way into numerous dark corners of the Jersey Shore.
Now a forthcoming book entitled Doctor Dealer, a digital copy of which was provided to The Inquirer, details the six-page suicide note left by James Kauffman, an endocrinologist who hanged himself in 2018 in a Hudson County, N.J., jail cell while awaiting trial in the murder of his wife, April, a Shore radio personality and advocate for veterans.
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In the note, Kauffman denies killing his wife, blaming the killing on members of the New Jersey Shore Pagan’s Outlaw Motorcycle Club to whom he had been illicitly supplying opioid prescriptions after being introduced to members by her.
“I am not blaming April,” the note, written on yellow legal paper, says, according to the book. “We were both stupid + naïve. What I did I was forced to do for my family so help me G-D.”
After her death, he wrote, “I could not believe (naïve me) that people would think that I did it.”
The suicide note, released to Kauffman’s widow, Carole Weintraub, by a judge, has not previously been made public. Doctor Dealer, by former Inquirer reporters George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano, will be published in September by Berkley, a division of Penguin Books.
Despite the denial in the suicide note, which was addressed to her, Weintraub concludes in the book that Kauffman, “the man she married, the man who was her first love, had his wife April murdered.”
“I think he was involved,” she told the authors, who caution about the note: “Like so much else about the case, his farewell raised more questions than it answered.” The note is signed “JMK MD” when Kauffman was a doctor of osteopathy, or D.O.
The book is based on extensive interviews with Weintraub, of Philadelphia, and Andrew Glick, a Pagans informant who testified at the trial of Freddy Augello, the leader of the Pagans, who was ultimately convicted in the murder of April Kauffman but continues to deny that he participated in the killing.
April Kauffman’s daughter, Kimberly Pack, who has long asserted her belief that her stepfather killed her mother, said Thursday that she was not interviewed for the book and had not seen the note. ”That’s crazy that all these people are profiting off my tragedy,” she said. “At least interview me and get the whole picture.”
In the note, Kauffman says Augello approached him at his office three years after the May 10, 2012, killing and told Kauffman that he and Francis Mulholland, now deceased, were responsible for April’s murder. Kauffman claims in the note that Augello said he had an affair with April Kauffman.
Prosecutors had accused Kauffman of soliciting Augello and others to kill his wife to keep her from revealing the illegal drug operation and after she threatened to divorce him. Augello, a sign maker and guitar player who was retired from the Pagans, was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison.
The note reads: “... some guy named ‘Freddie?’ came up to me + said he wanted to be a patient + that if I didn’t he would do to me what he + some person named Mulholland and a certain driver did to April. He also said not to worry as Mulholland was dead + a gun was in 3 pieces in 3 states. He said he had an affair with April + when she broke it off the murder occurred.”
After his conviction, Augello stood in the courtroom and told reporters: “I did not kill Mrs. Kauffman, nor did I pay anyone to kill Mrs. Kauffman. Joe Mulholland and his cousin killed Mrs. Kauffman.”
At trial, Augello, a former president of the New Jersey Shore Pagan’s Outlaw Motorcycle Club, blamed the murder on a fellow member of the club, Joseph Mulholland, who admitted driving the gunman to the Kauffman residence and testified against Augello.
In the note, Kauffman says April introduced him to members of the motorcycle gang, whom she had met through her work as a veterans advocate. He wrote that he was nervous about meeting them, but agreed to see a few in his office without their having insurance.
That led to a request for narcotics prescriptions, he said. He wrote in the note that he initially said no:
“I said I could not do this + a gun was shoved in my face + said April and I would be killed if I didn’t. They said they were stopping the payments to April. After having diarrhea and vomiting I went home + April was crying. She said they told her the same things they told me. They also said if we went to the police or anybody else they would kill her daughter Kim + then us. It wouldn’t matter who found out they would kill us. Both of us decided to keep it to ourselves.”
Kauffman wrote that the threats continued, “cajoling, threatening, demanding, etc.... I was and still am extremely frightened about what they can do.”
Kauffman said he continued supplying narcotic prescriptions to the motorcycle club members until April 2012, when he told them again that he didn’t want to lose his medical license.
“They said I had to or face the consequences,” he said. “I heard nothing but threats up until May 9th.”
He then details his whereabouts on the morning that April Kauffman was found shot to death in her Linwood bedroom, a murder prosecutors said he orchestrated.
“On May 10th, after I left the hospital, WaWa + my office they cold-bloodedly murdered her. April always told me to leave the door open with the ‘come in’ sign on the door so if she was in the shower she would tell them to come in + wait. I should never have listened to that.”
Six to eight weeks later, he got a call from Weintraub, a high school friend, and the two began a relationship that led to marriage. Meanwhile, he continued giving out prescriptions to the Pagans who showed up at his office in Egg Harbor Township.
“I was told I was being watched. ‘So don’t try to get away with something.‘ I know what that meant. I am sure April isn’t the first person they had killed.”
Kauffman ended up supplying prosecutors with the names of Augello and Francis Mulholland for them to investigate in his wife’s killing. But he was arrested along with them, and ultimately was transferred to Hudson County, where, he wrote, he saw no other choice but to hang himself.
He apologized to Weintraub, her daughter, and “any person I have hurt, insulted or was rude to in my 68 plus years”:
“This left me with no choice but to do what I am going to do now. I see those dirt bags ganged up to save their butts while frying mine. To those who think that is a fabrication or prevarication, I put my money where my mouth is.