Doctor Has Wife Killed After She Threatened to Expose His Opioid Ring

Photo from the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office

A doctor from New Jersey hired a hitman to kill his wife after she threatened she would expose the illicit prescription drug operation he ran out of his medical practice. Prosecutors said Tuesday that Dr. James Kauffman, 68, from Linwood, a small town outside Atlantic City, was arrested.

More than five years after his wife, April Kauffman, was found dead at 47 inside their home, James Kauffman is in jail awaiting charges for racketeering and first-degree murder. The local radio host as killed by an alleged co-conspirator, Ferdinand Augello, 61, who also faces first-degree murder charges.

Atlantic County prosecutors said Kauffman and Augello presided over an illegal network of opioid sales through an alliance with the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. The county prosecutors investigated the case with the FBI and other agencies.

The murder happened on May, 10, 2012 in the morning. A police report was made about an unconscious, unresponsive woman at their home around 11:30 AM. Emergency medical-responders and police found her on the floor with wounds from multiple gunshots. She was declared dead at 11:45 AM.

Kauffman told police who arrived at his house that he found his wife dead in the master bedroom and the second floor of their home, according to a press release.

The case was stagnant for years despite receiving media attention around the world.

The prosecutors from Atlantic County believed that Kauffman’s killing came after conversations about divorce took a vicious turn. James Kauffman said he would rather kill April than acquiesce to the divorce and lose “half his empire,” according to the press release from the prosecutor’s office. In addition to threatening divorce, she threatened to expose his opioid ring to authorities, where he sold prescriptions to people associated with the Pagan biker gang.

Kauffman then solicited Augello to murder his wife in 2011, prosecutors said.

When the police came to Kauffman’s house with a search warrant, he came out with a gun. In contrast to many killing of African-Americans around the country when police believed they had guns, the authorities did not shoot Kauffman. He is currently in custody awaiting court.