The man convicted in April Kauffman’s murder cannot argue for a new trial using a letter claiming the Atlantic County prosecutor mishandled the case, a judge ruled Friday.
Attorneys for Ferdinand “Freddy” Augello subpoenaed three longtime Prosecutor’s Office employees who authored the letter claiming Prosecutor Damon Tyner failed to disclose certain required information to the defense.
Former acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, retired Detective Lt. Heather McManus and current Chief Assistant Prosecutor Donna Fetzer sent the letter to the U.S. attorney and state attorney general Oct. 4, urging them to investigate allegations that include mortgage fraud by Tyner and ethical breaches by him and some members of his staff.
Former and current employees ask for investigation of Atlantic County prosecutor – BreakingAC
Days after the Atlantic County prosecutor celebrated one of the biggest wins of his career with a conviction in the April Kauffman murder, he is now under attack for allegedly violating ethics in that case. Two former and one current employee of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office have asked for an investigation of Prosecutor Damon … Read more
Augello is set to be sentenced Wednesday for Kauffman’s murder and a prescription pill-selling partnership with her now-dead husband, Dr. James Kauffman. Before that, his attorney wanted to argue for a new trial.
The defense planned to have the women testify about their claims at that time.
But the 22-page letter is “impermissible hearsay,” Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury ruled Friday, quashing the subpoenas that would have compelled the women to testify.
Dubbed “the Ruberton Letter,” DeLury wrote in his seven-page ruling that it “shows no indication that the assertions contained in the letter were made under oath or by certification of the purported authors.”
The women were looking forward to being heard, their attorney told BreakingAC before the judge’s ruling.
They had asked only that their testimony be given “in camera,” or outside of the public courtroom. That request cited “an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office,” DeLury wrote.
“When my clients requested through confidential letters to the New Jersey Attorney General and the Department of Justice that they investigate Mr. Tyner, among the many reasons for my clients’ request was what they believed to be unlawful or unethical conduct on the part of Mr. Tyner and/or other prosecutors at the ACPO (Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office) regarding the Kauffman case,” attorney Michelle Douglass said in an email to BreakingAC. “I believe my clients were subpoenaed so that they could provide truthful testimony about certain aspects of the ACPO’s handling of the Kauffman case. They look forward to their opportunity to do so.”
But they won’t get that opportunity, at least for now.
If the defense supplements its motions with the appropriate affidavits or certifications, then the court will determine whether cross-examination or oral testimony will be allowed, the judge said in his ruling.
Augello’s attorneys could not be immediately reached for comment.