It's one thing to call a lawyer a pimp, but accusing him of planning a murder to help a client?
That's what prosecutors are now saying about Paul Bergrin, a prosecutor turned defense attorney who also lists "brothel operator" on his resume.
Prosecutors today formally charged Bergrin with leading a racketeering conspiracy that included the murder of a witness in a drug case, the attempted hiring of a hitman in another drug case, wire fraud and money laundering, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., announced, according to a released statement.
During today's proceedings, DEA Special Agent Michael Smith said "Bergrin poses .. a serious risk that ... he will ... intimidate, threaten, injure and possibly kill."
Bergrin intimated to gang members who were friends with a client named William Baskerville that a key witness in a drug case had to be "handled" if Baskerville wanted to avoid jail time, according to a 2007 New York Times article.
"No Kemo, no case," is what Bergrin told Baskerville's associates about witness Deshawn "Kemo" McCray, the Times reported.
Three months after that, McCray was found shot to death.
"When discussing potential trial witnesses (with clients), Bergin often said the phrase, 'No witness, no case,'" Smith said.
During Baskerville's drug trial, details emerged that prosecutors say connected Bergrin to the homicide. The man who confessed to having shot McCray, Anthony Young, said he was paid $15,000 by a known heroin dealer, Hakeem Curry, to commit the murder because Bergrin insisted McCray "has to be pushed, he has to be handled, we have to knock him off," according to the Times article.
Bergrin was among four people arrested today in the 14-count indictment. They're scheduled to appear in court this afternoon. A fifth defendant is incarcerated in the Monmouth County Jail awaiting trial on state drug charges, the statement said.
Bergrin is no stranger to the wrong side of the courtroom. Just this month, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to run the NY Confidential brothel after founder and self-proclaimed "King of all pimps" Jason Itzler got busted. Among the perks that came with Bergrin's gig there was a buffet of $1,000-an-hour hookers, but he was eventually sentenced to three years' probation and sentenced to $50,000.
In addition to gangsters, Bergrin has represented some high-profile clients, including a former New Jersey beauty pageant who this month was sentenced to jail for writing bad checks, as well as an American soldier who pleaded guilty in 2007 to murdering three detainees in Iraq the previous year.
"Bergrin has bribed jurors in an effort to win cases," said Smith, who claimed Bergrin once said about a witness that "we can make it look like a robbery. It cannot under any circumstances look like a hit."
He even represented Queen Latifah when she got her car stolen back in the 1990s.