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Superseding Indictment Charges Attorney and Alleged Criminal Associate with Additional Racketeering Offenses

TRENTON, N.J. – A federal grand jury has returned a second superseding Indictment against attorney Paul W. Bergrin, 55, of Nutley, N.J., and Alejandro Barraza-Castro, 34, of Newark, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

The 33-count second superseding Indictment, returned June 2, 2011: extends the time frame of the Count One racketeering charge and the Count Two racketeering conspiracy charge from January 2003 back to November 2001; adds new allegations of witness tampering and drug trafficking to the Count One racketeering charge and the Count Two racketeering conspiracy charge; extends the time frame of the Count Five drug conspiracy charge from January 2005 back to January 2003; adds one count of violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity; adds one count of conspiracy to travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise; and adds two additional counts of travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise. The second superseding Indictment also eliminates counts relating to one act of witness tampering and counts related to acts of mortgage fraud contained in the prior Indictment.

An arraignment will be held before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court on a date to be determined.

According to the second superseding Indictment and other documents filed in the case:

Count Three charges that Bergrin, in consideration of payment from and to maintain his position in a racketeering enterprise referred to in court documents as “The Bergrin Law Enterprise,” aided in the murder of an individual identified in court documents as K.D.M.. While the K.D.M. murder was the subject of charges in the prior Indictments, the allegations in Count Three further link the murder to the racketeering activity conducted by The Bergrin Law Enterprise.

Count 17 charges that Bergrin conspired with others to bribe a witness to falsely confess to committing a crime that was actually committed by one of Bergrin’s clients. On June 8, 2007, Bergrin’s client was arrested and charged with illegally possessing a handgun. Prior to his arrest for illegally possessing a handgun, Bergrin’s client was assisting Bergrin in operating The Bergrin Law Enterprise’s drug trafficking business. As a result of those charges, Bergrin’s client was detained in jail and thus unable to assist Bergrin in operating the Bergrin Law Enterprise’s drug trafficking business. In order to thwart those charges, and obtain his client’s release from jail, Bergrin and the client devised and executed a scheme to bribe a person to falsely confess that he, not Bergrin’s client, possessed the handgun on June 8, 2007. That person gave false confessions to one of Bergrin’s investigators and later to Newark police officers. Although Bergrin knew the confessions were false, he nevertheless introduced the statements into evidence in an official proceeding in support of his claim that his client was innocent of the charge of illegally possessing a handgun. As a result, Bergrin’s client was acquitted of the charge and released from jail. Thereafter, Bergrin’s client resumed assisting The Bergrin Law Enterprise’s drug trafficking business. Counts 18 and 19 specifically charge Bergrin with using a facility in interstate commerce, on June 21, 2007, and July 1, 2007, respectively, to further the bribery scheme.

The additional allegations in the Count One racketeering charge, the Count Two racketeering conspiracy charge, and the Count Five drug conspiracy charge do not change the maximum potential penalties Bergrin and Barraza-Castro face. The counts in the superseding Indictment carry the following maximum potential penalties:

Count(s) Maximum Potential Penalty

One – racketeering (Bergrin, Barraza-Castro) Life in prison; $250,000 fine

Two – racketeering conspiracy (Bergrin, Barraza-Castro) Life in prison; $250,000 fine

Three – violent crime in aid of racketeering activity (Bergrin) Life in prison; $250,000 fine

Four – violent crime in aid of racketeering activity (Bergrin) 10 years in prison; $250,000 fine

Five – conspiracy to distribute cocaine(Bergrin, Barraza-Castro) Life in prison; $10 million fine

Six – distribution of cocaine (Barraza-Castro) Life in prison; $10 million fine

Seven – distribution of cocaine (Barraza-Castro) 40 years in prison; $5 million fine

Eight, Nine, 10 – maintaining drug-involved premises

(Barraza-Castro) 20 years in prison; $500,000 fine

11 – maintaining drug-involved premises (Bergrin) 20 years in prison; $500,000 fine

12 – conspiracy to murder a witness (Bergrin) Life in prison; $250,000 fine

13 – murder of a witness (Bergrin) Life in prison; $250,000 fine

14 – conspiracy to travel in aid of prostitution business (Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

15, 16 – travel in aid of prostitution business (Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

17 – conspiracy to travel in aid of drug trafficking business and

bribery (Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

18, 19 – travel act violation (Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

20 – conspiracy to travel in aid of drug trafficking business (Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

21-25 – travel in aid of drug trafficking business (Bergrin) 20 years in prison; $250,000 fine

26 – evading currency transaction reporting requirements

(Bergrin) Five years in prison; $250,000 fine

27-33 – filing false tax returns (Bergrin) Three years in prison; $100,000 fine

Several co-conspirators have entered guilty pleas in federal court to related charges. Yolanda Jauregui, 37, of Nutley, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy. Thomas Moran, 44, of Paramus, N.J., pleaded guilty to traveling in aid of a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise, and money laundering. Vicente Esteves, 38, of Manalpan, N.J., pleaded guilty to traveling in aid of a racketeering enterprise and conspiracy to travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise. Alejandro Barraza-Castro’s brother, Alonso Barraza-Castro, 22, of Newark, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Jose Jiminez, 61, of Newark, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Sundiata Koontz, 39, of West Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty to wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy. Each is awaiting sentencing before Judge Martini.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, and DEA – under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian R. Crowell, with the investigation leading to the second superseding Indictment.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph N. Minish and John Gay of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 


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