A former federal prosecutor charged with ordering the murder of one witness and trying to arrange the slaying of another will remain in custody until his trial — despite a somewhat rare request by his attorney.
U.S. District Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo ordered 53-year-old Paul Bergrin held without bail after prosecutors convinced her he’d pose a danger to every witness prepared to testify against him.
Bergrin’s attorney said his client’s former federal colleagues portrayed him as dangerous because of the drug-dealing, gang-banging clients who have been the bread-and-butter of his private practice since he left government work.Paul Bergrin
The lawyer also offered to hire a private security firm, combined with electronic monitoring, to keep Bergrin under house arrest. Bergrin would post a $1 million bond, secured by three homes in New Jersey and Florida, he said.
But Arleo Cox, mindful that Bergrin could face the death penalty if convicted, wasn’t swayed.
Bergrin made headlines recently after admitting he ran an exclusive Manhattan whorehouse with the man who later hired Eliot Spitzer’s favorite hooker.
The federal indictment returned in Newark accuses Bergrin of ordering hits on witnesses and convincing others to lie keep clients out of jail.
The indictment specifically details Bergrin’s role in the murder of a confidential witness in an Essex County federal drug case, and his alleged efforts to hire a hitman from Chicago to kill at least one witness in a Monmouth County drug case being prosecuted by the county. As it turns out, the “hitman” turned state’s evidence for the feds.
The informant who was killed — Kemo Deshawn McCray — bought drugs from William Baskerville in a buy-and-bust operation that led to Baskerville’s arrest on distribution charges, court papers filed by a DEA agent say.
Bergrin, after thumbing through legal documents, met with Baskerville in jail and identified McCray as the informant, the agent said.
Bergrin then met with his client’s cousins, allegedly telling them that “if they didn’t kill ‘Kemo,’ William Baskerville would spend the rest of his life in jail,” he wrote.
“After Bergrin discussed how Baskerville’s drug associates were going to pay Bergrin’s legal fee for his representation of William Baskerville, Bergrin said that if there was no “Kemo” to testify against William Baskerville, there would be no case against William Baskerville,” the document says. “Bergrin said that if “Kemo” was dead, that William Baskerville would definitely get out of jail.
“When Bergrin left the meeting, he said ‘remember what I said, no Kemo, no case’.”
Kemo was standing on a Newark streetcorner in March 2004 when a killer who authorities say was hired by Baskerville’s cousins walked up and shot him three times in the back of the head.
A father of three, Bergrin once was a New Jersey success story, jumping from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey to private practice, defending some extremely shady rappers and gangsters, as well as high-profile clients like Queen Latifah, Li’l Kim and others. But word quickly spread that he was up to no good himself.
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