Paul Bergrin, a defense lawyer and former prosecutor, has been accused of going a bit too far in fulfilling his duty of zealous advocacy for his client: police believed that Bergrin encouraged the 2004 killing of Deshawn McCray. He is also accused of running a brothel with representatives from the oldest profession.
Mr. McCray was a critical witness against Mr. Bergrin’s client William Baskerville, who is facing charges as a cocaine dealer.
Prosecutors say that Bergrin passed along McCray’s name to friends of his client and in a meeting told them “No Kemo, no case.” Kemo is McCray’s nickname. Three months later there was no Kemo — he was shot in the head by the gang.
Prosecutors however appear to have blundered themselves in handling evidence, including a tape of surveillance — making a criminal charge difficult. Bergrin vehemently denies the charge. Yet, police say there is a pattern.
In one case, murder charges against Mr. Bergrin’s client were dropped after a prosecution witnesses was killed. In another murder case and a shooting case, charges were reduced after witnesses were intimidated and recanted their previous statements. And in 2005, a witness against one of Mr. Bergrin’s clients in a murder case changed his story after the defendant’s relatives gave him $1,050 in Mr. Bergrin’s office — and later pleaded guilty to making the payment.
Mr. Bergrin was not present in the office at the time, and he said he had no knowledge of any such payment. “There was never any allegation that I was involved,” he said.
Bergrin in the meantime is facing charges that he was the operator of New York Confidential, a brothel that charged $1,000 an hour. Prosecutors say that he took over the operation from a client and has used it to give sexual favors to cops and jail guards.
Bergrin denies these charges as well. It should make for a quite a trial.
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