SEP 23 (NEWARK, N.J.) – Carl J. Kotowski, Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Paul J. Fishman, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey announced a New Jersey lawyer who turned his law firm and related corporations into a racketeering enterprise was sentenced today in Newark federal court to life in prison.
Paul W. Bergrin, 57, of Nutley, N.J., was convicted in March 2013, following a jury trial, of all 23 counts on which he was tried – including conspiracy to murder a witness and other racketeering, cocaine and prostitution offenses.
The jury returned the verdict after two months of trial before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, who also imposed sentence today.
“Paul Bergrin’s betrayal of the people he once served, the court and the rule of law was stunning,” said U.S. Attorney Fishman. “Each criminal choice he made was a step toward life in prison. After all he did to elude punishment for his clients - including orchestrating the murder of witnesses - he could not avoid facing justice for his own crimes.”
According to documents filed in this case, evidence at trial and statements made in court:
Through his law firm, Bergrin conspired to tamper with witnesses, distribute cocaine and facilitate drug trafficking, prostitution and bribery, among other things. He conspired to murder witnesses to protect the drug trafficking enterprise, one of whom was shot to death to prevent him from testifying in court.
As a result of his conviction, Bergrin faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison on each of the following counts: count three, violent crimes in aid of racketeering; count 12, conspiring to murder a federal witness to prevent his testimony at an official proceeding; and count 13, aiding and abetting the murder of a federal witness to prevent testimony at an official proceeding. He also faced a maximum term of life in prison on three other counts.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski; FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Deputy Chief John Gay and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph N. Minish of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division; and Steven Sanders of the office’s Appeals Division in Newark.