Third man charged in the N.J. political operative’s murder-for-hire case

George Bratsenis

A Connecticut man was sentenced Wednesday to 16 months in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire scheme in which a New Jersey-based political consultant paid him and another man to kill a longtime associate.

George Bratsenis, 74, of Monroe, Conn. previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. His co-conspirators, Sean Caddle and Bomani Africa, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the murder scheme. Africa was sentenced on Feb. 23 to 20 years in prison. Caddle is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29.

In addition to the prison term, Bratsenis must be supervised five years after he is released.

In April of 2014, Caddle hired Bratsenis to murder a political operative on Caddle’s behalf in exchange for thousands of dollars. Bratsenis recruited Africa, a longtime 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, Jersey City political operative Michael Galdieri.

On May 22 of 2014, Bratsenis and Africa traveled from out of state to Galdieri’s apartment in Jersey City. After entering the apartment, Bratsenis and Africa stabbed Galdieri to death and then set fire to his apartment. After Caddle learned that Galdieri had been murdered, he met Bratsenis in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth, where he paid Bratsenis thousands of dollars in exchange for the murder. Bratsenis then shared a portion of those proceeds with Africa.

Galdieri worked on the campaigns of former Assemblyman Lou Manzo and other politicians for Caddle’s consulting group. In 2005, Galdieri ran for a seat on the Jersey City Council but was arrested on drug and weapon charges on the eve of the election and spent two years in prison.

Caddle was an aide to former State Sen. Ray Lesniak and headed up several super PACs to funnel dark money into local races. He also was the executive director of the group Houston Votes, which was accused of collecting fraudulent voter registration cards. According to the New York Times, he also worked from 2003 to 2005 as a political consultant for Senator Bob Menendez when he was a congressman, and billed the Menendez campaign for almost $100,000.

The murder-for-hire case has caused people to raise new questions about the deaths of a Montgomery couple. Former New Jersey Transportation Commissioner and health care executive John Sheridan, 72, and his wife Joyce were found dead in their home in September of 2014. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the deaths a murder-suicide, claiming Sheridan fatally stabbed his wife Joyce, set their home ablaze, and then took his own life. The sons of the couple never believed the deaths were a murder-suicide, and asked prosecutors to reopen the case.