Mulholland, 53, of the Villas section of Lower Township, pleaded guilty to second-degree racketeering before Judge Bernard E. DeLury in Atlantic County Superior Court. As part of the plea deal, he will testify during the trial and could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in state prison.
Mulholland said he got OxyContin prescriptions from now-deceased Dr. James Kauffman and then sold them to Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello, with whom he rode motorcycles, six or seven times. He described himself as “a worker” when asked by DeLury to explain his role in the scheme’s hierarchy.
Asked what Augello’s role was, Mulholland said: “He was the boss.”
Augello, 62, of Upper Township, an alleged Pagans motorcycle gang leader, is charged with murder and accused of hiring a hitman to kill April Kauffman — a move prosecutors say was motivated by husband James Kauffman’s desire to hide the drug ring he ran through his Egg Harbor Township medical practice with Augello, who pleaded not guilty during his arraignment April 19.
Augello’s public defender, Mary Linehan, was not surprised that Mulholland entered into the plea deal and said it doesn’t change anything for her client.
“Mulholland had been cooperating with the state for a while,” she said. “He gave statements to police that he was the driver for the man that was alleged to have killed April Kauffman.”
Francis Mulholland, whom authorities pegged as the hitman in the killing, died in October 2013. The two Mulhollands are not related.
Linehan said she suspected Joseph Mulholland was already cooperating with the state because he was never indicted in April Kauffman’s death.
“My client has already provided statements,” Ed Weinstock, Mulholland’s attorney, said after the conference. “It’s no secret what his involvement was.”
Mulholland’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 25 before DeLury.
Augello was also scheduled for a status conference Thursday morning before DeLury but waived his right to appear.
DeLury has still not received a copy of the purported suicide note left by James Kauffman after he was found dead of an apparent suicide Jan. 9 in jail in Hudson County. Several of the attorneys on the case have requested to see the note, but DeLury said he wants to review it before entering it into evidence.
Augello is scheduled for a pretrial conference July 19, and a trial is set for Sept. 11.
Asked whether the plea deal will affect the other defendants, Weinstock said that’s up to the other defendants and their attorneys.
Five other defendants in the case pleaded not guilty to charges of racketeering, distribution of drugs and conspiracy to distribute drugs as part of the drug ring: Beverly Augello, 48, of Summerland Key, Florida; Glenn Seeler, 37, of Sanford, North Carolina; Paul Pagano, 61, of Egg Harbor Township; Tabitha Chapman, 35, of Absecon; and Cheryl Pizza, 36, of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.
Chapman, Beverly Augello, Seeler and Pagano are scheduled for status conferences at 9 a.m. July 26, while co-defendant Pizza is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. that same day.
Party rental trucks were at the club’s Nanaimo headquarters on Thursday. Tents and porta-potties are in place and new fencing is going up in preparations for what will be the largest Hells Angels event in Nanaimo in years.
“We haven’t seen this many Hells Angels members in our city since they used to have an event called Angels Acres on a property south of town,” said Const. Gary O’Brien with Nanaimo RCMP. “That has since shut down since the property sold.”
Up to 300 full patch members and affiliated biker gang members are expected to arrive in Nanaimo this weekend.
Police including BC’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit will be watching closely both to deter criminal activity and ensure public safety.
“It’s part of a sanctioned event which is happening in Nanaimo,” said O’Brien. “It’s the 35th anniversary of the formation of the Nanaimo chapter, Vancouver chapter, White Rock and East End.”
The unofficial clubhouse on Victoria Road is right beside the former official clubhouse. It was seized under B.C.’s Civil Forfeiture Act in 2007.
The Hells Angels are appealing that seizure in BC Supreme Court.
Those in the city today have mixed views about Nanaimo hosting such a large biker gang gathering.
“I don’t welcome them here but there’s nothing you can do about them,” said Gary, a Nanaimo resident who didn’t want to give his last name. “I expect like in the past years they’ll behave themselves and the cops will keep a good watch on them but next year they can find somewhere else to go.”
“I’ve got no objection really at the moment,” said Ann Lester, also a Nanaimo resident. “If they’re here I’m sure they’ll manage themselves and everything should be fine I hope.”
“Good for the community. I’m sure they’ll go to the stores and bring up economy too right and they’re going to be spending lots so I think it will be good,” said Jason Mathewson, who’s visiting from Alberta.
Police say people should expect seeing gang members wearing their colours on Nanaimo’s streets.
“They should know that we are aware this event is taking place,” said O’Brien. “We’re not expecting any issues whatsoever and we have sufficient manpower in place in the event something does happen.”
It should be a busy weekend. The Hells Angels gathering is happening at the same time as Nanaimo’s famous bathtub festival.