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A defense attorney who once had a roster of celebrity clients and boasted of having tried hundreds of cases in federal court was sentenced there on Monday to life in prison without parole after his conviction on nearly two dozen counts including murder conspiracy and racketeering.

Paul Bergrin, in custody since his 2009 arrest, wore khaki prison scrubs and showed little reaction as a judge read what amounted to several life sentences Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Newark.

The 57-year-old former federal prosecutor once represented an Army reservist charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq and celebrities such as Queen Latifah, the rapper Lil' Kim and the group Naughty By Nature. He also represented reputed gang members and alleged drug kingpins from his offices in Newark.

Bergrin, formerly of Nutley, and several associates were arrested and charged in May 2009 with running his law business as a criminal enterprise. The U.S. attorney's office charged Bergrin with more than 30 counts including racketeering, setting up the murder of a witness, money laundering and drug offenses. His first trial, in which Bergrin represented himself, ended in a hung jury two years ago.

A second trial resulted in his conviction in March on 23 counts related to operating what prosecutors said was a racketeering enterprise that engaged in drug trafficking, prostitution, bribery, plotting to murder witnesses and money laundering.


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