In May 2009, New Jersey defense attorney Paul Bergrin was arrested in connection with a 14-count racketeering indictment. Bergrin is a former Essex County assistant prosecutor, the DOJ said. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1985-1990.
The charges included arranging the murder of a witness. The case was brought in New Jersey by then-acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra, who is now the office’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Federal prosecutors say Bergrin used threats, bribes and murder to discourage witnesses from testifying. In addition, Bergrin passed the name of an informant to associates of a client in a drug case. The informant was fatally shot in Newark, N.J., in 2004.
The decision not to seek the death penalty in the case was made by Attorney General Eric Holder, according to the AP. The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office run by Paul Fishman did not comment on the decision.
Lawrence Lustberg, one of Bergrin’s attorneys, told the Asbury Park Press, “Obviously, he’s relieved.”
“He still recognizes that while the death penalty is off the table, his life is on the line. If he is convicted of a number of these allegations, he could spend the rest of his life in prison,” Lustberg added.
In an unrelated case in October 2009, Bergrin was sentenced to time served in connection with running a Manhattan brothel.