NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey political consultant and one of the two men he paid to kill a longtime associate nearly eight years ago have admitted to the plot in court.
Bomani Africa, 61, pleaded guilty to helping carry out the the murder-for-hire scheme Wednesday before a judge in federal court in Newark during a video conference.
A day earlier, Sean Caddle, of Hamburg, New Jersey, a longtime operative in northern New Jersey political circles, appeared in court and pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder for hire.
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, a Paterson, New Jersey, native and former Philadelphia resident, acknowledged that he and Bratsenis went to the apartment of Michael Galdieri 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 awaiting sentencing, according to court records.
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 Bratsenis in the murder-for-hire case as of Wednesday afternoon.
Like Caddle, Galdieri was involved in the political scene in northern New Jersey, and former associates said the two were close at one time. Galdieri was the son of late former state Sen. James Galdieri.
“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.
Caddle also worked on the 2013 and 2017 campaigns for 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.”
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.
This story has been corrected to show that the government agreed to not pursue further charges as part of the plea agreement. It did not agree to drop additional charges.