- - Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Veteran crime reporters and authors George Anastasia and Ralph Cipriano have written an interesting true crime book tltled “Doctor Dealer,” which is about greed, drug trafficking and a murder-for-hire.

April Kauffman, an attractive radio host and military veterans advocate, was found murdered in her New Jersey home in 2012. Her husband, Dr. James Kauffman, a respected endocrinologist, was later charged with arranging her murder with an outlaw biker who was his partner in a lucrative and illegal “pill mill” operation.

Freddy Augello, a Pagans biker gang leader, went on trial for murder and drug dealing in 2018. Andrew Glick, another Pagan leader, became a witness against Augello. James Kauffman, who remarried not long after his wife’s murder, was awaiting trial for murder when he was found dead in prison.

“The book had a strange genesis. George had been talking to Andrew Glick, who had approached George about doing a book on the Kauffman case,” Ralph Cipriano told me. “At the same time, Carole Weintraub approached me and said she had a story I might be interested in.

“Then George and I talked, and we decided if we put the two stories together, we might have something. The book is a quirky story about a doctor of osteopathy whom patients loved but who was also a scam artist, and, as it turned out, a killer. The book is also a mystery, in my opinion, because some people think Kauffman is still alive, others think he was murdered, and his third wife, Carole, still isn’t sure what to believe. Part of her still wants to believe he was innocent.”

Mr. Cipriano said he wrote the parts about Carole Weintraub and George Anastasia wrote the parts about Andrew Glick. Both writers covered the Augello trial. Mr. Cipriano credits George Anastasia with doing most of the on-the-ground crime reporting.

“Ralph and I had worked on stories together at the Philadelphia Inquirer. This was just an expanded version of that,” George Anastasia told me. “I thought it was a compelling story, especially with the opioid backdrop. So many people are concerned about the crisis and here, in microcosm, is an example of how those drugs get to the streets. Once Ralph and I got access to two of the key players, it seemed like a no brainer.”

Mr. Anastasia said “Doctor Dealer” was the story of a man consumed with greed and power who thought he could get away with murder and the story of two women who were fooled by him. One paid with her life. The other is still dealing with the aftermath.

Mr. Anastasia, who covered the Tom Capano and Fred Neulander murder trials, said he saw a lot of similarities between those cases and Kauffman. “All three of these guys are more despicable than any mobster I’ve written about.”

Mr. Anastasia said Glick contacted him as he had read some of his books on organized crime.

“Ralph called me up and asked about this story. I said “Funny you should ask” and told him Glick had approached me. We decided that with both their views we’d have a unique and compelling way to tell the story of the Kauffman murder and all the elements surrounding it.”

The two authors disagree on the suicide of Kauffman in his prison cell.

“I have doubts about the prison suicide,” Mr. Cipriano said. “Why did the doc sign his name with an MD after it, rather than a DO? His widow has never seen any autopsy photos, and only got the autopsy report long after the suicide. Freddy Augello did tell Glick he was arranging through his mob contacts a hit on the doctor in prison. Was it a murder or a suicide?”

Mr. Cipriano also wonders why Kauffman didn’t wait for the trial. He noted that Kauffman had Eddie Jacobs as his lawyer. Mr. Cipriano said that in a 2001 federal racketeering trial he watched Eddie Jacobs beat five murder charges that reputed South Philly mob boss Joey Merlino and others were accused of.

“Even if Dr. K was guilty, Eddie was so good at demolishing government witnesses, or snitches or rats as he called them, that my money would have been on Dr. K beating the rap,” Mr. Cipriano said.

Mr. Anastasia believes Kauffman did in fact commit suicide.

“No doubts,” Mr. Anastasia said. “The note, even with the MD signature, was just quintessential Kauffman.”

Kauffman was an egotistical and arrogant man, so Mr. Anastasia suggests that the MD in the note might have been his final obscene gesture to everyone.

• Paul Davis’ On Crime column covers true crime, crime fiction and thrillers.

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