On Monday, a federal jury in Newark found Paul Bergrin guilty on all 23 counts at his trial including charges of drug trafficking, prostitution, and murder of an FBI informant. Bergrin has been called the “baddest lawyer in the history of Jersey,” and his current trial is the second effort of the federal prosecutors after their first attempt was declared a mistrial.
The first trial in 2011 had ended in a deadlocked jury, as the prosecutors had severed other charges against Bergrin, and had included only the charges over the murder of the FBI informant Kemo McCray. An appeals court later held that the counts against Bergrin could be tried together.
During the trial, Bergrin told the jury, “You’ll find in this case conclusively that you can’t trust any of the witnesses against me.” He pointed out that all witnesses used against him by the prosecutors were career criminals who are receiving favorable deals from the prosecutors in exchange of testimony against Bergrin.
The almost two-month long trial allowed the prosecutors to provide added evidence, including secret recordings that showed him discussing the plan to kill a witness and make it appear as a home invasion. In the case of McCray, the FBI informant was a witness against one of Bergrin’s clients. Shortly after Bergrin telling the client, “No Kemo, no case” McCray was shot to death on the streets of Newark, in broad daylight.
Bergrin was also shown to have helped Jason Itzler the self-declared “King of Pimps,” to have engaged in extensive money laundering, and to have trafficked hundreds of kilos of cocaine using his law firm to connect suppliers and distributors, and storing cocaine in a restaurant he owned.
Bergrin had worked both as a state and as federal prosecutor and later became one of the most high-profile defense lawyers in New Jersey.