N.J. attorney to rap stars, drug lords given six life prison terms

Sept. 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM
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NEWARK, N.J., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A former high-profile New Jersey defense lawyer says he is "not broken" despite being given six life prison sentences for running a Mafia-style enterprise.

"I'm ashamed. I'm embarrassed. I'm humiliated. But I am not broken," Paul Bergrin told a federal judge in Newark, The Star-Ledger reported Tuesday.

Bergrin, 57, was convicted in March of plotting the murders of witnesses in cases he handled and arranging the shooting of an FBI informant and witness, Kemo Deshawn McCray.

At his sentencing Monday Bergrin told U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh, "I'll go to my grave saying I had nothing to do with the death of Deshawn McCray."

During Bergrin's trial, the man who shot and killed McCray in 2004 testified Bergrin had told members of his client's gang months before the shooting the client might be sent to prison for life for the killing. However the witness, Anthony Young, testified Bergrin then told the gangsters, "No Kemo, no case."

Telling the attorney he had "abused his position of trust," Cavanaugh gave Bergrin six life sentences for, among other charges, conspiracy to murder a federal witness, aiding the murder of the witness, racketeering conspiracy and drug conspiracy. The judge added another 200 years for other charges.

The judge said giving Bergrin lesser sentences would undermine the credibility of the entire criminal justice system."

During his career, Bergrin represented rap stars, drug lords and U.S. soldiers accused in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

Bergrin is expected to appeal his sentences.

Federal crimes have no provision for parole.

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