Paul Bergrin (pictured), an attorney whose roster of celeb clients included such performers as Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, and Naughty By Nature, was sentence to life in prison without parole Monday for nearly two dozen counts, including murder conspiracy and racketeering, according to the Daily Mail.
Court documents also state that the Newark, N.J.-based lawyer, who has been behind bars for over three years, also repped drug kingpins and gang members.
Bergrin was cuffed in May 2009, along with several of his cohorts, for reportedly conducting business in an unsavory manner, according to the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Bergrin was charged with over 30 counts of racketeering, money laundering and illegal narcotics dealings.
The once dapper esquire was also found guilty of setting up the murder of a witness, according to court documents.
When Bergrin had his first trial two years ago, he represented himself and it ended in a hung jury. Bergrin’s second go-round last March resulted in a conviction on 23 counts relating to his racketeering empire that, in addition to his other criminal offenses, included counts of prostitution and bribery.
In a bid to win the sympathy of the court, Bergrin addressed the courtroom before his sentencing Monday and was reportedly anything but humble. He spoke in a tone that was unwavering and cocky. Bergrin addressed the injustices he had been charged with and pointed the finger of blame at former colleagues and crooked witnesses, whom he said were dishonest in their testimonies about him.
According to his supporters, Bergrin was the caliber of attorney who would go the extra mile for his client. Bergrin’s cheering section also believe he had been unfairly portrayed in the media and that he was a philanthropist who gave back to the blighted city of Newark, where his robust practice was based.
Lawrence Lustberg, an attorney who acted as an advisor to Bergrin during both trials, told the Daily Mail that Bergrin planned on appealing both the jury verdict and the sentence. Lustberg said after Bergrin’s sentencing, “The offense was sentenced. The offender was not.”
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Cavanaugh lamented that handing down anything less than life imprisonment to Bergrin would “undermine the entire criminal justice system of which the defendant was a part, and which he manipulated and abused.”