Newark, New Jersey – A former Democratic campaign consultant, Sean Caddle, was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on Thursday for hiring hitmen to kill his colleague, Michael Galdieri, in exchange for $15,000. Caddle, a 45-year-old political consultant, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder-for-hire in the 2014 stabbing and subsequent arson attack that claimed Galdieri’s life.
During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez expressed skepticism about Caddle’s acceptance of responsibility, suggesting that his cooperation with prosecutors in a separate tax and wire fraud case was an attempt to “save his own skin.” The judge referred to the crime as one of the most unusual and heinous he had encountered.
Caddle, who had been under house arrest, was led away by U.S. Marshals following the hearing. Throughout the proceedings, he remained silent, adhering to his lawyer’s advice not to comment.
In the courtroom, two relatives of Galdieri, who chose to remain anonymous, stood united as one of them read a statement on behalf of the family. The woman expressed difficulty of conveying the impact of her brother’s murder and the subsequent arson attack. She shared feelings of regret and described crying in Caddle’s arms after her brother’s death, unaware at the time that he was involved in the crime. She believed him to be a friend of the family.
The case gained attention in early 2022 when Caddle’s guilty plea shed light on the mysterious death of Galdieri, the son of a former state senator, which had remained unsolved for eight years. Raymond Lesniak, a former Democratic state senator for whom Caddle had worked, described it as the most bizarre experience of his life.
Recently, prosecutors disclosed the motive behind the murder: Caddle claimed that Galdieri was threatening to extort money from him by exposing alleged wrongdoing in his political consulting business. However, the specifics of the supposed wrongdoing and the amount of money Galdieri sought remained undisclosed.
Prosecutors received a fortunate break when one of the two ex-convicts who had pleaded guilty to a 2014 Connecticut bank robbery voluntarily offered information about a murder that occurred during the same year. George Bratsenis, sentenced to 16 years, and Bomani Africa, sentenced to 20 years, confessed to assisting Caddle in the murder.
Bratsenis informed authorities that Caddle had approached him at his Jersey City home in 2014, aware of his criminal background, and asked if he could find someone willing to commit murder for $15,000. Caddle instructed Bratsenis to ensure Galdieri’s death within a month and provided him with up to $4,000 upfront.
On May 22, 2014, Bratsenis and Africa went together to Galdieri’s apartment, where Galdieri, expecting Bratsenis for a planned robbery, let them in. According to authorities, Galdieri was fatally stabbed by both men, and the apartment was doused in gasoline and set ablaze.
The following day, Caddle met Bratsenis in a diner parking lot to hand over the remaining payment. Initially, Caddle did not have enough money and had to withdraw additional funds from his political consulting business’s bank account, as revealed by prosecutors.
On that same day, Caddle was interviewed by prosecutors about Galdieri’s death, during which he disclosed Galdieri’s drug use but concealed his own involvement in the killing.
During the court hearing, prosecutor Lee Cortes acknowledged Caddle’s helpful cooperation but emphasized the gravity of the crime. He described Caddle’s role in the cold-blooded murder of a lifelong friend as one of the most serious crimes imaginable.
Although conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire resulting in death carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, prosecutors sought a 15-year sentence for Caddle. They highlighted that Caddle’s criminal history did not include other violent crimes and emphasized his cooperation with investigators.
It became apparent in court that Caddle’s cooperation had been instrumental in securing a guilty plea in November from a former top aide to the state Senate president on tax and fraud charges related to their political consulting work together. Prosecutors commended Caddle for his numerous meetings, document submissions, and recordings, which significantly aided their case.
Prosecutors recommended that Caddle be sent directly to detention after his sentence, indicating that his period of cooperation had concluded.
The family member standing alongside Galdieri’s sister expressed satisfaction with the sentence, giving a thumbs-up when asked for his reaction. He expressed gratitude for the justice system, distinguishing it from a mere legal system.