A hitman got a 16-year federal prison sentence for accepting thousands of dollars to stab a New Jersey political consultant to death and incinerating the scene of the crime.
George Bratsenis, a 74-year-old from Connecticut, pleaded guilty in a videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to conspiring to murder consultant Michael Galdieri. A fellow consultant, Sean Caddle, paid Bratsenis for the hit in April 2014, and Bratsenis contracted out part of the bloody deed to Bomani Africa, a longtime accomplice from Philadephia, prosecutors say. All three admitted to the scheme, but only two — the hitmen — have been sentenced.
In May 2014, Bratsenis and Africa traveled out of their respective states to Galdieri’s apartment, where they stabbed him to death and set fire to his apartment.
“After Caddle learned that the victim had been murdered, the following day, he met Bratsenis in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth, New Jersey,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. “Caddle paid Bratsenis thousands of dollars in exchange for the murder, and Bratsenis shared a portion of those proceeds with Africa.”
After his sentence, Bratsenis will receive a five-year term of supervised release.
Over in New Jersey, the fact that Caddle remains a free man has flummoxed the local press.
“Caddle, 45, remains inexplicably free on a $1 million bond while awaiting a sentencing date that has been repeatedly delayed, with no expectation that he will face a judge anytime soon,” NJ Advanced Media reported.
Describing Caddle as a well-known figure in northern New Jersey politics, The Associated Press reported that the consultant’s one-time clients included current Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and former Democratic state senator and gubernatorial candidate Raymond Lesniak.
Much of the docket remains shrouded in secrecy. The threadbare criminal information shields the names of all of the participants and contains few details about the crime. Unlike most federal court cases, the sentencing papers remain under seal, and several news outlets, including the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Bergen Record, moved to have them released. Prosecutors indicated that they will release redacted versions of the filings.
The plea agreement shows that the offense Bratsenis committed, a racketeering murder charge, carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but prosecutors recommended a term of between 10 to 25 years behind bars.
The AP described Bratsenis as a career criminal, sifting through decades of arrests for bank robbery, drug, murder conspiracy and weapons offenses.
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