Today a Connecticut man admitted to his role in the 2014 murder of Jersey City political operative Michael Galdieri.
According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, George Bratsenis, 73, of Monroe, Connecticut, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire.
The murder for hire scheme, which came to light in January, has rocked the world of New Jersey politics and been the subject of numerous articles in the local and national press.
Bratsenis’ accomplice, Bomani Africa, a/k/a “Baxter Keys,” pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire in January.
At the center of scheme was political consultant Sean Caddle, 44, of Hamburg, New Jersey, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire in January.
In April of 2014, Caddle asked Bratsenis, a career criminal, to kill one of his associates in exchange for thousands of dollars. Bratsenis recruited Africa, an ongoing accomplice from Philadelphia, to join the plot. After Bratsenis confirmed his and Africa’s interest in the job, Caddle told Bratsenis that the target was a longtime associate who had worked for Caddle on various political campaigns named Michael Galdieri.
On May 22 that year, the Bratsensis and Africa went to Galdieri’s home on Mallory Ave. in Jersey City and stabbed him to death. Afterwards, they set the apartment on fire.
The following day, when Caddle learned that the Galdieri had been murdered, he met Bratsensis in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth and paid him thousands of dollars. Bratsensis, in turn, shared shared a portion of those proceeds with Africa.
Galdieri had worked on the campaigns of former Assemblyman Lou Manzo, Mayor Bret Schundler and Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski and for Caddle’s consulting group.
In 2005 he ran for Jersey City’s Ward B city council seat. According to a 2014 article in the Hudson Reporter, Galdieri was arrested on drug and weapon charges on the eve of the election. After taking a plea deal and then attempting back out, saying he was set up, he spent two years in prison.
At the time of the murder, County Commissioner Bill O’Dea told the Jersey Journal that Galdieri was “a friendly, regular guy.”
Caddle worked as an aide to former State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) and headed up several super PACs to funnel dark money into local races. Caddle was executive director of the group Houston Votes which was accused of collecting fraudulent voter registration cards. According to the New York Times, he worked as a political consultant for Senator Robert Menendez when he was a congressman, from 2003 until early 2005, and billed almost $100,000.
“Eight years ago, these three individuals – Caddle, Bratsenis, and Africa – conspired to brutally murder the victim,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “At Caddle’s direction, Bratsenis and Africa stabbed the victim to death in the victim’s apartment, and then set it ablaze. These guilty pleas bring a measure of justice to the victim’s memory and for his family. I commend the efforts of the FBI, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and my Office for their determination over many years to bring this matter to resolution.”
Bratsenis faces a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2022.