A screen grab of Paul W. Bergrin speaking at a conference several years ago.
Report By The Observer Staff
A former prominent Nutley attorney has been found guilty on 23 charges — ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to racketeering — after a significant trial and two days of jury deliberation.
Paul W. Bergrin, 57, who practiced primarily in Newark, and who was a former federal prosecutor, sat in stunned silence as the foreman of the jury announced he was guilty of all charges he faced.
The charges — all one count unless otherwise noted — included Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business and Bribery, Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business and Bribery (2 counts), Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business, Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business (5 counts), Failure to file an IRS Form Racketeering, Racketeering Conspiracy, Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (2 counts), Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance, Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises (3 counts), Conspiracy to Murder a Witness, Aiding and Abetting the Murder of a Federal Witness, Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Prostitution Business and Travel in Aid of Prostitution Business (2 counts).
“Bergrin’s conduct was a stunning violation of his role as an officer of the court and a betrayal of his roots as a member of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman. “Today, the jury returned the verdict compelled by the evidence and imposed the justice he deserved. We take no joy from his tragic fall, but I am extremely proud of the work done by those in my office and agents from the FBI, IRS and DEA that led to this just result.”
The once-respected lawyer was the representative to many celebrities over the years. The charges arose when federal investigators became aware he was using his law office in a mafia-like manner, according to reports.
During a two-month trial, Bergrin represented himself, and insisted he was set up by corrupt prosecutors. But clearly, the jury didn’t buy his defense.
Bergrin was a major in the United States Army, having served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
As a U.S. attorney, he served under U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.
While on trial, Bergrin maintained a website and blog, where he continued to lament that he was set up.
Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division – under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Koval, with the investigation leading to the conviction.
Three of the charges Bergrin was found guilty of carry a mandatory life sentence — and there’s no parole in the federal prison system. He’ll never see the light of day again.
Sentencing is set for June 18.