Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lawyer, Facing Retrial in Killing, Seeks Hearing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Lawyer, Facing Retrial in Killing, Seeks Hearing

Article excerpt

Paul Bergrin, a former federal prosecutor accused of running his Newark law practice as a racketeering enterprise, is seeking an evidentiary hearing into allegations of government misconduct before his next trial.

The inquiry should focus on whether several key witnesses whose credibility "was vigorously contested" at Bergrin's first trial, on charges of instigating the 2004 murder of an FBI informant, were encouraged or coerced to lie under oath, Bergrin's attorney said in motion papers filed late Tuesday.

The court should also delve into allegations of misconduct uncovered by Bergrin's investigator to determine whether the indictment against Bergrin should be dismissed, whether certain government witnesses should be precluded from testifying again, or if the prosecutors should be kicked off the case, the defense said.

In a letter to the trial judge Wednesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven G. Sanders asked to have until Aug. 31 to respond to the misconduct claims.

"The request for a hearing seems like a ploy to delay the trial and obtain a deposition of government witnesses," he wrote.

Bergrin, whose first case ended in a hung jury and mistrial last fall, faces a tentative date of Oct. 1 for his next trial. The case was reassigned to U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh after an appeals court, at the government's behest, removed the prior judge over questions about his impartiality.

In briefs filed Tuesday, prosecutors urged Cavanaugh to permit the government to go forward with a single trial on 26 counts alleging that Bergrin committed and conspired to commit acts of murder, witness tampering, cocaine trafficking, traveling in aid of a racketeering enterprise, bribery, coercion, prostitution and money laundering.

In the interest of ensuring a fair trial, Bergrin is asking Cavanaugh to sever the charges and proceed initially with only one of the alleged murder plots, as was done in Bergrin's first trial.

Cavanaugh has set Sept. …

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