One of the most shocking and tragic stories in Atlantic County history has escalated to an even more sensational level.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017, will go down as a monumental day regarding the conduct of Dr. James Kauffman. Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner could not have ever imagined what would unfold on this day.
With great precision, Tyner developed and successfully implemented a multi-jurisdictional law-enforcement raid at the Egg Harbor Township office and Linwood home of Kauffman.
The raids to obtain evidence from Kauffman took a turn you normally can only see in a made-for-television movie.
The exact reason for the raids has not been revealed to the public, although Tyner has been artful in saying it both does and does not involve the murder of April Kauffman.
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Based on probable cause, Tyner obtained the search warrants at both locations and members of the FBI, Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the Egg Harbor Township Police Department participated in the raids.
Tyner has confirmed that during the raid, Kauffman brandished a 9 mm Ruger handgun and then turned the gun on himself. Following a 45-minute standoff, a hostage negotiator was successful in having Kauffman surrender to law-enforcement authorities.
Kauffman was initially taken into the custody of the Psychiatric Intervention Program and then placed under arrest.
The potential criminal charges against Kauffman include:
Unlawful possession of a weapon; possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; possession of hollow point bullets and obstruction of the administration of law.
Kauffman was in possession of a weapon. There is no doubt about this and the ACPO has video evidence, which became a matter of public record earlier this week.
Just the possession of a weapon (handgun) in this manner is a charge of the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years in jail. A possible charge of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose is also a 2nd degree crime.
When a civilian possesses hollow point bullets, it is automatically considered to be a 4th degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in New Jersey state prison. The issue of whether Kauffman possessed actual hollow point bullets remains in doubt. This has not been reported any where else before now.
If the "Graves Act" is applied, there is a presumption of five years in jail, with a mandatory 3 years time served before being eligible to apply for parole or probation.
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In a successful prosecution, Tyner would no doubt seek consecutive prison terms for these various allegations. I took a hard look at the way that matters such as this are typically disposed of upon conviction. An estimated 8 year prison sentence and a minimum 3 1/2 years of time served is the standard result.
There is also the issue of Kauffman's license to practice medicine that the Atlantic County Prosecutor will have to decide; Whether to seek application for suspension immediately, or, wait until the various charges are adjudicated.
There are currently patients understandably upset, because their medical records are currently tied up in the Kauffman investigation. That will all sort itself out, but, these records must be treated as legitimate evidence as part of a multifaceted criminal investigation.
It has now been confirmed that a second weapon was discovered in Kauffman's automobile on June 13, however, no hollow point bullets were involved.
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On Wednesday, June 14, Kauffman appeared in the courtroom of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury, Jr., the same judge who held a hearing about Tyner's previous request for a DNA sample from Kauffman regarding the investigation into the murder of April Kauffman.
DeLury is the quintessential Judge to handle the expanding Kauffman matters. DeLury is the real deal, a former Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals.
For reasons that I cannot go into any specific details at this time, DeLury's career in the military will come in very handy as this case proceeds.
Kauffman appeared again in DeLury's courtroom on Monday, June 19, 2017 for a detention hearing. Despite the serious nature of Kauffman's pending criminal charges, defendants usually receive bail release in cases such as this.
Tyner aggressively sought to deny bail for Kauffman. Going in to the detention hearing the prospects of keeping Kauffman in jail was considered a long shot. However, DeLury granted it.
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With the new standards in place, this is very unusual. However, DeLury cited that Kauffman had $ 100,000 in cash in his office; along with more than 100 guns spread out amongst multiple homes and that he was considered to be a flight risk.
Therefore, Kauffman will remain in prison throughout the upcoming trial process. It was also revealed during the detention hearing that Kauffman was ordered to provide a DNA, as a result of the previous first hearing.
Prior to the raid on Kauffman's office and home, he had not provided the DNA sample.
The video that was recorded by law enforcement during the raid, the one-hour stand-off and the possibility that Kauffman could be a danger to himself and others weighed heavily on Judge DeLury's decision to deny bail to Kauffman.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office is presently investigating all leads regarding suspected criminal activity by Kauffman. This is a multifaceted criminal investigation and we will continue to be your best source and provide you with the latest details as they occur.