Home>Highlight>N.J. Political consultant pleads guilty in murder-for-hire case

Sean Caddle. (Photo: Sean Caddle).

N.J. Political consultant pleads guilty in murder-for-hire case

Victim was Michael Galdieri, who worked on political campaigns in Hudson County

By Joey Fox and David Wildstein, January 25 2022 5:42 pm

Sean Caddle, a former aide to former State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) and a Democratic political consultant, has admitted to his role in a 2014 murder-for-hire case, U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger announced today.

The victim was Michael Galdieri, whose name was not publicly released by the U.S. Attorney’s office.  Galdieri was the son of former State Sen. James Galdieri (D-Jersey City) and a semi-prominent figure in local Hudson County politics. 

According to Sellinger, Caddle hired two men to kill Galdieri, paying them thousands of dollars to do so. The two men fatally stabbed Galdieri before setting fire to his Jersey City apartment in May 2014.

“This was a callous and violent crime, and this defendant is as responsible as the two men who wielded the knife,” Sellinger said in the statement. “There is no more serious crime than the taking of another person’s life. The defendant has admitted arranging and paying for a murder by two other people. His admission of guilt means he will now pay for his crime.”

Perhaps coincidentally, the Galdieri murder occurred on May 22, 2014, about one week after a Bayonne mayoral election when Mayor Mark Smith was forced into a runoff against Jimmy Davis, a Bayonne police captain.  Caddle, through a Lesniak-related super PAC, the Committee for Economic Growth and Social Justice, came to Bayonne in support of Davis.   Davis won the June 10 runoff.

Galdieri had worked for Caddle’s political consulting firm.

Caddle had been involved in an unsuccessful 2020 Atlantic City referendum to eliminate the direct election of the mayor and reduce the number of seats on the city council.  Lesniak was a major player in getting the referendum on the ball

The super PAC was involved in non-partisan elections in Newark and Bayonne and in school board election in Elizabeth.  Caddle worked on Jamel Holley’s 2015 campaign for State Assembly.

Prosecutors allege that Caddle solicited a Connecticut resident to commit the murder.  That person “recruited a longtime accomplice from Philadelphia” to help him.

After Caddle learned the following day that the victim had been murdered, “he met (the Connecticut man) in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth” and paid him “thousands of dollars in exchange for the murder.”

At the time, Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano Gregory said that Galdieri was stabbed to death, before his home at 1578 Mallory Avenue in Jersey City was set on fire.

Galdieri worked on political campaigns in Jersey City, including mayoral races for Louis Manzo and Bret Schundler, and City Councilman Steve Lipski.  He served on the Jersey City Rent Leveling Board, and worked for Manzo on his State Assembly staff.

His father won an unexpired term in the New Jersey State Senate in 1980, after the criminal conviction of State Sen. David Friedland (D-Jersey City) had created a vacancy.  Redistricting in 1981 left no path for him to remain in the Senate.  Galdieri’s grandfather represented Hudson County in the State Assembly in the 1930s.

In 2005, Michael Galdieri sought the Ward B seat on the Jersey City Council on a slate opposed to Mayor Jeremiah Healy.  The night before the election, he was arrested on drug and weapons charges and was sentenced to prison.  He was defeated by Mary Spinello.

In 2010, Caddle served as the director of Houston Votes, a privately-funded voter registration group that was accused of fraudulently registering voters.  About two dozen workers were fired as a result of a probe.  Later, a Houston voting machine warehouse was set on fire.

U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez released Caddle on a $1 million unsecured bond, and is on home detention with electronic monitoring.

Caddle faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. It’s not clear whether the two men whom Caddle hired have been charged or sentenced, though the release does imply their identities are known to law enforcement.

This is a developing story; the New Jersey Globe will continue to update the story as more information becomes known.

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