NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The federal trial of a prominent New Jersey defense attorney accused of orchestrating the murder of a government informant will get under way this fall.
The Record (http://bit.ly/O3rrmi) newspaper reports that U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh decided Tuesday to start Paul Bergrin's trial on Oct. 1.
But the start date could be pushed back if Cavanaugh grants a government request that Bergrin be tried on all 33 counts he faces in a federal racketeering indictment.
Bergrin, who is representing himself with help from court-appointed counsel, said he would need more time to prepare his defense if that happens.
Cavanaugh was recently chosen to preside over the trial. The reassignment came weeks after a federal appellate court removed U.S. District Judge William Martini from the case over questions about his impartiality.
Bergrin, 56, of Nutley, is a well-known defense lawyer whose clients included rap stars Lil' Kim and Naughty By Nature, an Army reservist charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and numerous reputed gang members.
He was charged, along with several others including another lawyer, in May 2009 in a 14-count indictment that later grew to the current 33 counts. It alleged that he plotted to murder a witness who was to testify against one of his clients in a drug case. His co-defendants eventually pleaded guilty to other counts, and some testified against him last fall.
Bergrin's trial last year ended in a hung jury. During the trial, prosecutors sparred with Martini over his decision to exclude some evidence and have them try some counts separately.
Bergrin has been behind bars since his arrest in May 2009. He faces life in prison if convicted in the slaying of McCray, who was gunned down by a Newark drug gang after Bergrin allegedly told members, "No Kemo, no case."
Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.