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General News

Greek-American Bratsenis Named as Hitman in 2014 Murder-for-Hire

February 2, 2022

NEWARK, NJ — In a stunning revelation even for the rough-and-tumble arena of northern New Jersey politics, a longtime political consultant has admitted he engineered the killing of another political operative nearly eight years ago.

Sean Caddle, a political consultant in northern New Jersey, had the son of a former state senator killed by two hired men, who fatally stabbed the victim in 2014 and set fire to his apartment, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Bomani Africa, 61, of Philadelphia, admitted on January 26 in a video conference in Newark federal court that he was one of the men hired by Caddle. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder-for-hire. Caddle pleaded guilty to the same charge on January 25.

Caddle, 44, worked on the 2013 and 2017 campaigns for powerful former Democratic state Sen. Ray Lesniak, of Union County.

“The most bizarre thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. No… indication whatsoever,” Lesniak said in a phone interview Wednesday. “He led a double life. While he was running campaigns for me — a lot of them very successful — he was arranging a murder.”

The victim, Michael Galdieri, for years had traveled in the same circles as Caddle and even worked with him at times, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Much of their work was done in and around Jersey City, infamous as the focal point for a major corruption sting in 2009 that snagged numerous local politicians in a pay-to-play scam involving a government cooperator posing as a crooked developer.

A motive in the scheme was not immediately clear. An attorney for Caddle didn’t return a message Wednesday, and Africa’s attorney, Bruce Koffsky, declined comment. An automated message on Caddle’s cell phone said he wasn’t accepting calls.

According to authorities, Caddle solicited a Connecticut resident, identified by Africa during his plea hearing as George Bratsenis, in April 2014 to commit the killing in exchange for thousands of dollars. Africa acknowledged that he and Bratsenis went to Galdieri’s apartment in Jersey City the following month and killed him. The duo then set fire to Galdieri’s apartment, according to prosecutors.

Africa acknowledged that after Caddle learned of Galdieri’s death he paid off Bratsenis in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth and that Bratsenis paid him a share of the money.

It’s unclear how much they got.

Africa appeared by videoconference Wednesday from a federal detention center in Rhode Island where he’s been held while he awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to an armed bank robbery in Connecticut in 2014, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut. The robbery occurred about four months after Galdieri’s murder. Bratsenis also pleaded guilty in that robbery and is currently awaiting sentencing at a federal detention center in New York, according to court documents.

Africa was sentenced in 1986 to 50 years in prison, with a 25-year period of parole ineligibility, on robbery, assault and drug charges, according to court records in New Jersey.

No charges had been announced against Greek-American Bratsenis in the murder-for-hire case as of the afternoon of January 26.

“This was a callous and violent crime, and this defendant is as responsible as the two men who wielded the knife,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said in a statement announcing Caddle’s guilty plea.
The judge allowed Caddle to remain free on $1 million unsecured bond, home detention with electronic monitoring and travel restrictions while he faces a sentence of up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Africa’s status was not clear.
According to court documents, Caddle provided information to authorities in late September, about a month before he signed a plea agreement. In court documents, the government said it is seeking a prison sentence of between 12 1/2 and 25 years, according to court documents.
NJ.com said Galdieri had worked on the campaign of former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo and on Bret Schundler’s run for Jersey City mayor in 1993.
“New Jersey attorney Mark Sheridan wants prosecutors to examine similarities between the mysterious and still-unsolved September 2014 deaths of his parents” and the Jersey City murder that took place four months earlier, Politico reported on January 28.
“Sheridan’s parents, John and Joyce, were found dead that same year, both of stab wounds,” Politico reported, adding that “their bodies were left in a room in their Somerset County home that had been set on fire” and “prosecutors initially called the case a murder-suicide but eventually walked that back under pressure from the Sheridans’ children.”
“I know that neither of you were in charge of your respective offices at the time of my parents’ deaths. However, you should be aware that each of your offices all but laughed at my family’s suggestion that my parents’ deaths were anything other than a murder suicide…Indeed, both offices openly mocked the idea of killing for hire involving a stabbing with a fire set to destroy evidence,” Sheridan, a top Republican attorney in New Jersey, wrote to acting state Attorney General Andrew Bruck and Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson, Politico reported.
Sheridan “asked the prosecutors to reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, which prosecuted the bank robbery case, to compare the evidence, including whether the knife [Bratsenis used] matches the Sheridan’s set,” Politico reported.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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