For his former colleagues, it stings to watch Paul Bergrin brought into a federal courtroom in a green jumpsuit and shackles, the one-time sinewy prosecutor suddenly turned into a chiseled specimen of evil.
The ritual was repeated when he and three accused associates pleaded not guilty to murder and witness intimidation.
Bergrin once put criminals away, first with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and, later, with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He then went private, defending gang members and such rap stars as Li’l Kim and Queen Latifah.
Early last month, Bergrin, 53, admitted running a $1,000-an-hour escort service with the man who later hired Eliot Spitzer’s favorite hooker — a Belmar woman best known as Ashley Dupree.
But that’s nothing compared to the government’s charges that he systematically derailed criminal cases against his clients — once by arranging the murder of a key witness and another time by hiring a hit man to whack another. Prosecutors say they have proof he also encouraged others to lie or flee.
Bergrin, who has bulked up considerably since his days working for the government, didn’t speak in federal court in Newark today. He was arraigned along with fellow attorney Thomas Moran and three other defendants and continues to be held without bail, pending the outcome of the case.
The government could seek the death penalty.
For more on this story, go to: Judge orders pimp lawyer in murder held without bail .