“No witness, no case”

/ 17.May, 2011

The criminal case against former New Jersey criminal defense attorney Paul Bergrin is starting to heat up again.  Trial is scheduled for October and Mr. Bergrin’s attorneys are apparently attempting to negotiate a plea deal.  Mr. Bergrin was a prominent New Jersey attorney representing clients including Abu Ghraib defendants, the rap stars Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah and members of Newark street gangs.  In 2009, Mr. Bergrin was arrested on charges including witness tampering, racketeering, mortgage fraud and murder of a federal witness.  The wiretap transcripts included a conversation in which Mr. Bergrin stated: “No [witness], no case.”  Mr. Bergrin was accused of regularly intimidating witnesses, and actually plotting to kill witnesses in two cases.  George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer has just released a short video regarding the case in his feature “Mob Scene.”  Mr. Anastasia discusses Mr. Bergrin’s alleged involvement in a drug ring as well as his involvement with a prostitution ring.

Needless to say, Mr. Bergrin has been suspended from the practice of law in New Jersey, and disbarred in New York.  The New York disbarment was based solely on his involvement in the prostitution ring.  In terms of ethical violations, the accusations against Mr. Bergrin span the entire gamut, but most fundamentally, pursuant to N.J. Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 (b) (the rule is the same in Pennsylvania), it is “professional misconduct” for a lawyer to “commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”  There are crimes for which this rule is subject to interpretation, but they do not include prostitution, drug dealing, or plotting murder of an adverse witness.

Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire