Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang by Annie McCormick (Book Review)


The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang by Annie McCormick
Publisher: Camino Books
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Format: Paperback - 192 pages
               Audiobook - 8 Hours 36 Minutes
               Kindle - 5470 KB / 218 pages
               Nook - 3 MB
ISBN: 978-1680980295
ASIN (Audibook): B08WTPCW35
ASIN (Kindle): B0844Q276Q
BNID: 2940163002795
Genre: True Crime

Buy The Book:

Book Description:

A prominent New Jersey doctor and members of a notorious outlaw motorcycle gang transform the doctor’s office into a drug ring pumping thousands of highly addictive opioid pain pills onto the streets in exchange for cash.  Everything was going smoothly until one person discovered their plan: the doctor’s wife.  When she threatened to divorce him, the doctor’s unholy alliance with his partners in crime turned deadly and the doctor hired a hitman to kill her. 

THE DOCTOR, THE HITMAN, AND THE MOTORCYCLE GANG: The True Story of One of New Jersey’s Most Notorious Murder for Hire Plots is the true story of the murder of April Kauffman, a beloved and vivacious local radio personality and veterans’ advocate who was found shot to death in the bedroom of her home in Linwood, the affluent town just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey, in May of 2012. In the months leading up to her death, she had uncovered a tangled web of deceit surrounding her husband. She feared he was trying to kill her and that he may harm her family.

Her daughter, Kim Pack, never doubted her stepfather Dr. James Kauffman was responsible somehow. Reporter Annie McCormick met Kim Pack on the first anniversary of Kim’s mother’s murder. Over the next five years, McCormick tracked the case even as few clues emerged. She continued to gather information, sorting through gossip, rumors and facts to uncover the doctor’s web of lies. Dr. Kauffman shunned the media and his stepdaughter, moving on with his life in the very same town. Meanwhile, investigators uncovered how the doctor worked with the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Pagans, to run a prescription pill mill out of his New Jersey Office. More illegal deeds would catch the attention of The FBI and DEA. The twists and turns of Dr. Kauffman’s lies and schemes would leave Kim Pack, her tight-knit New Jersey community, and even investigators shocked.

The murder case, which has received national attention, was the subject of a 20/20 episode on ABC in the spring of 2018. In THE DOCTOR, THE HITMAN, AND THE MOTORCYCLE GANG, McCormick details the twists and turns in the investigation that dragged on for years until investigators caught an unexpected break that sparked a string of arrests including the arrest of the doctor and several former members of The Pagans. Nearly six years later, authorities charged her husband, Dr. James Kauffman, with her murder. In 2018, a jury convicted a former leader of the Pagans Motorcycle Club with helping to carry out the murder. McCormick includes never before seen or heard details from the investigation through her years of covering the case and she documents the relentless search for justice by April’s family, friends, and her daughter.

Book Excerpt:

PROLOGUE                                                                                                When 35-year-old Kimberly Pack received the phone call from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office asking her and her husband to clear their schedules for the following Tuesday, January 9, 2018, she said, “We will be there.” But the mother of two young boys did not get overly excited, or for that matter, excited at all. When asked later exactly how she felt on the day she received this call, Kim answered: “Numb.” Kim had been down this road many times before, and she was not expecting much. It was now 2018, and she assumed this was just another meeting about her mother’s unsolved murder in 2012. A newly appointed Atlantic County Prosecutor named Damon Tyner had taken office in the spring of 2017, and one of the first people he called was Kimberly Pack. The new prosecutor promised to put new resources into the dormant investigation of the murder of her mother, April Kauffman, who was 47 at the time of her death. Tyner also promised to give frequent updates, and to share whatever information he could along the way. For the first time Kim felt that someone in a position of authority was on her side, really putting forth a major effort. Still, she felt cautiously optimistic at best, as false hopes had also become a normal part of her life. The mere fact that Prosecutor Tyner had reached out when he took office felt significant; for years, she’d received few updates and met resistance whenever she made an inquiry regarding the investigation. The very day of April’s murder it took detectives hours to tell Kim that they were investigating a homicide and that her mother had not died a natural death. Kim had already figured as much by the presence of the yellow crime scene tape and the news helicopters hovering above. When the day arrived for the meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office, Kim’s husband Randy had taken off work and was in the shower getting ready for their 1 p.m. meeting when the phone rang around 11 a.m. The location of the meeting had changed from the Prosecutor’s Office in Mays Landing to the FBI field office in Northfield. The couple was asked to come as soon as possible. Kim knew this was not just another meeting. When the Packs walked into the FBI’s second floor office, they were greeted by FBI Special Agent Dan Garrabrant. Garrabrant, a twenty-year veteran of the FBI, had promised Kim that he would find the person or persons responsible for her death and see to it that they were brought to justice, no matter who they were or how long it took.                                                                                                       That day had arrived. Garrabrant ushered Kim and Randy into a spacious conference room, where the team of people responsible for untangling one of the most notorious murderfor-hire plots in New Jersey history stood. Detective Jim Scoppa from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, flanked by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy and First Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill, stood next to the team’s new leader, Prosecutor Damon Tyner. Tyner placed a hand on Kim’s shoulder, looked her in the eye and said softly, “We got ’em, we got all of them.” Every person in the room then proceeded to hug Kim, who was overcome with emotion, and shake hands with Randy, before sitting them down and sharing some of the gruesome details. Dr. James Kauffman, Kim’s stepfather, and the man she had long suspected of killing her mother, had been arrested and charged with murder. In an unforeseen twist, investigators had found that Jim, the fidgety, nervous, physically unprepossessing doctor, was heavily involved with an outlaw South Jersey biker gang in what prosecutors described as an elaborate and lucrative drug dealing scheme. Kim knew that leading up to her mother’s death, her mother had uncovered some of the truth about some of Jim’s dirty deals and his labyrinth of lies. Prosecutors say that when she found out and threatened to expose the illicit pill mill he was running out of his medical office, a contract on her life was set in motion. The months following the meeting at the FBI office in Northfield would begin what Kim hoped would be the final chapter of her years-long journey in fighting for and ultimately finding justice for her mother. But the case was far from over, and was still to bring many new and disturbing details to light. The tangled web involving the doctor, the hitman, and the motorcycle gang was about to unravel.

My Book Review: 

In The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang, 6ABC Action News reporter / author Annie McCormick takes the reader behind the scenes of a riveting true crime story for an in depth look at a highly publicized murder case set in Atlantic County, New Jersey.

On May 10, 2012, forty-seven year old local NJ radio personality and veterans advocate April Kauffman was found dead on the floor of her bedroom by her handyman, Billy Gonzalez. What ensues is an intricate and multi-layered story of April's death, the role that her husband Dr. James Kauffman, a prominent local Endocrinologist, and the local county chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Gang had in her murder, the lengthy investigative process by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI, and the relentless determination of her daughter Kim Pack to ensure that justice is served for the murder of her mother.

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang is a riveting story that easily draws the reader in from the start, keeping them captivated as the author weaves a thoroughly intriguing and intricate recounting of a highly publicized true crime case. I grew up in Atlantic County and remember hearing about the tragic murder of April Kauffman, and watching this case profiled on ABC's 20/20 investigative / mystery show, so when I saw that the author wrote an in depth true crime novel based on this case, it peaked my interest and I knew that I had to read it.

You can't help but get drawn into this complicated, fascinating, and multi-layered story, it is a gripping account into the tragic murder of April Kauffman, and how her doctor husband's illegal dealings with the Pagans Motorcycle Gang led to her murder, when their ten year acrimonious marriage soured and she wanted a divorce. The author provides the reader with a fascinating and richly detailed and in depth look into the back stories and lives of each participant; an extensive research of the lengthy investigative and legal process (the case sat dormant until Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner was sworn into office on March 15, 2017) by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI.  

After an extensive and determined investigation into this case, the reader follows the author's thorough and very detailed accounting of a haunting tale of one woman's tragic and senseless death, and the determined pursuit of justice by her daughter and law enforcement that took six years to come to a culmination.

As I read this riveting account, I couldn't help but feel the frustration that April's daughter Kim went through to bring her mother's killers to justice. From the background into April and Jim's marriage, to Jim's narcissistic behavior, lies, and illegal drug schemes with the Pagans Motorycle Gang that led to their role in the murder for hire hit job on his wife, to the very long investigative process, the transcripts of wire tapped conversations between the suspects, and the trial transcript, the surprising twists and turns of this story will leave the reader simply stunned by the tragic and senseless death that befell April Kauffman. 

The Doctor, The Hitman, And The Motorcycle Gang is a gripping and haunting account of the tragic death of local NJ radio personality April Kauffman that is a must read for all true crime fans.


About The Author

Annie McCormick is an award-winning journalist based in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2012, Annie has worked as a general assignment reporter for ABC affiliate 6ABC Action News. She has extensively covered crime in the Philadelphia region for close to a decade. 

Annie began her career in journalism as a photo intern in The White House during The Clinton Administration. During her Senior year at Muhlenberg College she interned for The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, PA. After graduation in 2001, she worked as freelance photojournalist for newspapers and wire services in the tri-state area including The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Philadelphia Daily News, US Weekly and Star magazines, among others. 

Annie’s television news career took her across the country, she is currently a reporter at The ABC owned and operated television station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. 

Annie won several Associated Press awards and was Emmy nominated in both New Mexico and Pennsylvania for stories about the paranormal and crime. 

She graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA with a major in Communications and minor in Music. She is a South Jersey native and a graduate of Moorestown High School in Moorestown, NJ. 

The Doctor, The Hitman and The Motorcycle Gang is Annie's first true crime book.

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