DJ legend Dave Herman dies awaiting sex charges trial – USA TODAY
NEWARK – Former legendary New York disc jockey Dave Herman died Thursday while awaiting trial on federal criminal sex charges, officials said.
The U.S. Marshals Service, which had jurisdiction over Herman while he was incarcerated at Essex County Jail in New Jersey, confirmed his death Thursday.
Herman, 78, who was known for hosting WNEW’s Rock & Roll Morning Show for more than two decades, complained of chest pains Wednesday night, Essex County spokesman Anthony Puglisi said. He was taken that night to University Hospital in Newark, the closest trauma center to the jail, where he died 11 a.m. Thursday, Puglisi said.
The cause of death remains undetermined with an autopsy scheduled for Friday, officials said.
Herman was arrested last year at an airport in the Virgin Islands on a charge of attempting to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He had been held without bond in the Essex jail and faced at least 10 years and up to life in prison, in addition to a maximum $250,000 fine, if convicted.
In March, Herman pleaded not guilty after being indicted. Lawyers were in discussion for months on a possible plea agreement with the start of trial scheduled to begin July 28, according to court documents.
The federal sting began with an undercover investigator from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office pretending to be a mother and girl online and communicating with Herman on a sexually explicit website.
Herman allegedly wrote under the handle, David121482, and said he was “interested in other incest families, mothers who are involved with their children and all extreme or unusual family relationships.”
His lawyer told The Journal News last year that Herman had made up the profile and was trying to hook up with the mother and not the child. Federal officials said Herman had promised the woman he would not hurt the girl but might have to be “forceful” and that “age 6 is the perfect time to start her being loved that way.”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey said Thursday they were moving to dismiss the charges, as is standard practice upon the death of a defendant.
Attorney Marc Agnifilo said he hoped the case wouldn’t overshadow Herman’s legacy.
“Some would say he lived his last months under a legal cloud and that’s true, but we should remember him for the decades he gave the gift of music to people,” Agnifilo said.
Herman was a pioneering rock disc jockey in the late 1960s and 1970s, when he began experimenting with free-form rock music programming, something that was novel at the time on FM radio, according to Paul Heine, a senior editor at Inside Radio, an industry trade publication.
Herman worked at Philadelphia’s WMMR and later worked for decades as a morning DJ at New York City’s WNEW, where he remained until 1998, Heine said.
“WNEW was one of the most-watched stations in the country in its ’70s heyday, and he was a cornerstone of the legendary rock radio air staff there,” Heine said.
Herman lived primarily in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, although he has a daughter who lives in Airmont, New York.