George Bratsenis, a third defendant in a murder-for-hire in New Jersey, pleaded guilty Thursday to participating in a crime that killed a Jersey City man in 2014.
The admission in federal court, via videolink, solidified Bratsenis’ involvement in a case that has rocked New Jersey politics since Democratic political operative Sean Caddle admitted on Jan. 25 to paying thousands of dollars to have an associate, Michael Galdieri, killed nearly eight years ago.
One of the two hit men, Bomani Africa, 61, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to his role in the murder the following day, January 26.
Prosecutors have yet to publicly state the motive for the murder. And the plea hearing for Bratsenis, who had been named as an alleged hitman in previous court proceedings, revealed few new details beyond the fact that Bratsenis agreed to a plea deal last August with the office. of the United States Attorney of New Jersey.
READ MORE: North Jersey murder-for-hire ‘strangely similar’ to 2014 deaths of John and Joyce Sheridan, son says
White-bearded and wearing a faded white t-shirt, Bratsenis appeared via video before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark, NJ, for a hearing that lasted just over half an hour.
In response to a brief round of questioning from federal prosecutor Lee Cortes Jr., Bratsenis admitted to meeting Caddle in April 2014. He said he agreed to accept payment from Caddle for the murder of Galdieri and had traveled to Galdieri’s apartment in Jersey City to kill. him, with Africa, on May 22, 2014.
Bratsenis also admitted that Caddle paid him “thousands of dollars” in cash for the murder the next day at a restaurant in Elizabeth City, NJ.
Until Thursday, prosecutors had yet to formally charge Bratsenis in connection with Galdieri’s death.
Bratsenis, however, remained in prison. His criminal career dates back decades. A Vietnam War veteran, Bratsenis later went to prison for his roles in a 1980 murder plot in Connecticut and a series of jewelry store robberies in New Jersey between 1979 and 1983. At one point, in 1985, Bratsenis planned to escape from prison. in a brazen plot that was foiled before it began.
More recently, Bratsenis and Africa pleaded guilty to a 2014 armed bank robbery in Connecticut. The pair – who met while being held in a New Jersey jail – seized $29,937 from a bank in Trumbull, Connecticut, prosecutors said, and a witness then saw their car leaking car set on fire in a nearby car park.
READ MORE: Before the murder-for-hire plot that rocked New Jersey, George Bratsenis had a prolific criminal career
A few days later, on September 29, 2014, Bratsenis was arrested while driving. Africa was apprehended later, in 2015.
Africa and Bratsenis eventually pleaded guilty in the bank robbery case – but have been awaiting sentencing for years. Meanwhile, in December 2020, court documents show Africa reached a settlement with federal prosecutors in New Jersey on a murder-for-hire conspiracy charge.
On Thursday, the prosecution disclosed that Bratsenis accepted a plea deal in August 20201.
Caddle signed a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office last November, according to filings. During his January hearing, Caddle’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs, said Caddle was cooperating “with the FBI to develop a significant investigation.”