- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 26, 2022

NEWARK, N.J. — A political consultant in New Jersey has admitted paying two men to kill a longtime associate in 2014 who worked with him on various campaigns.

Sean Caddle, 44, of Hamburg, appeared in federal court by videoconference Tuesday and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Federal authorities have not given a motive in the scheme, and it’s unclear how and when they became aware of the plot.

An automated message on Caddle’s cell phone said he wasn’t accepting calls. A message was also left with Caddle’s attorney.

Caddle solicited a Connecticut resident in April 2014 to commit the killing for thousands of dollars, prosecutors said. That person recruited an accomplice from Philadelphia and they fatally stabbed the victim and set fire to the victim’s apartment the next month, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors did not release the names of the victim or the suspects, but NJ.com reported the circumstances of the case matched the death of Michael Galdieri, 52, who was the son of the late former state Sen. James Galdieri.

Authorities said Caddle learned the following day that the victim had been killed and he paid off the first conspirator in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth.

“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.

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.

According to court documents, Caddle provided information to authorities in late September, about a month before he signed a plea agreement. In exchange, the government agreed to drop two additional charges related to the murder-for-hire plot and will seek a prison sentence of between 12 1/2 and 25 years, according to the 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. “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 Michael Galdieri had worked on the campaign of former state Assemblyman Lou Manzo and on Bret Schundler’s run for Jersey City mayor in 1993.

NJ.com also reported Caddle worked as a consultant on former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak’s last reelection campaign and for other candidates. Lesniak said he spoke with Caddle earlier Tuesday and Caddle didn’t say anything about the charge.

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