According to NorthJersey.com, Paul W. Bergrin, a former federal prosecutor accused of racketeering in which he is charged with murder, conspiracy, drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, and witness tampering, is seeking an evidentiary hearing into allegations of government misconduct before his next trial, according to court papers filed this week.
The former Newark, New Jersey lawyer wants an inquiry into whether several key witnesses whose credibility “was vigorously contested” during Bergrin’s first trial were encouraged or coerced to lie under oath. Bergrin was charged of instigating the 2004 murder of an FBI informant.
According to the news article, Bergrin’s attorneys filed a motion requesting the court to look into allegations of misconduct uncovered by Bergrin’s investigator to see if the indictment against Bergrin should be dismissed, whether certain government witnesses should be precluded from testifying, or if the prosecutors should be taken off the case.
In a letter to the trial judge, the Assistant U.S. Attorney requested to have until August 31, 2012 to respond to Bergrin’s misconduct claims, and wrote that the inquiry for a hearing seemed like a ploy to delay the trial.
Bergrin’s first case closed with a hung jury and mistrial in 2011. He faces a tentative date of October 1, 2012 for the next trial. The case was reassigned to another U.S. District Judge after an appeals court, at the government’s behest, disqualified the prior judge over impartiality issues.
Bergrin, a lawyer with more than three decades of trial experience of Nutley, NJ has been incarcerated since his arrest in May 2009. At age 56, Bergrin would face life in prison if convicted in the slaying of Kemo Deshawn McCray, a government witness. Bergrin was “a lawyer who had represented rap stars, drug kingpins and U.S. soldiers accused of crimes in Iraq.” Bergrin is on trial for orchestrating the March 2, 2004 death of the FBI informant.
NJ.com reported in November 2011 that according to federal prosecutors, Bergrin arranged McCray’s murder. The FBI informant was shot in the back of his heading in daylight. Allegedly, Bergrin arranged the murder to shield Bergrin from being fingered as a supplier of cocaine to a Newark gang, and to prevent a legal client and a gang associate, from being charged for drug dealing.
While purchasing cocaine from Bergrin’s legal client on six different occasions in 2003, McCray “had worn a tape-recording device for the FBI.” According to NJ.com, Bergrin built his defense in the first trial around the theme that he was being set up by felons who were cooperating with the government and testifying to win lighter sentences for their crimes. Bergrin was accused of being a supplier of kilogram-quantities of cocaine to a gang. The FBI informant allegedly posed a threat to Bergrin.