Sean Caddle, a longtime N.J. Democratic political operative, pleaded guilty to arranging the assassination of a colleague in 2014. 

Caddle, now 44, appeared before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark via videoconference this week to admit his role in the murder-for-hire plot. 

Federal court documents do not name the alleged victim, though sources familiar with the case identified him to NJ.com as Michael Galdieri, the son of a former state senator who was found dead in his burning apartment in Jersey City almost eight years ago. 

Prosecutors said that Caddle solicited the hit from an unnamed Connecticut resident, who they accused of conspiring with a Philadelphia man to carry out the hit. Neither of the alleged assassins were named by federal officials. 

Pursuant to a plea deal inked in October but kept under wraps until this week, Caddle copped to one charge of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. He’d previously been released on $1 million unsecured bail and is on home confinement, reports added. 

Political Murder-For-Hire Plot Exposed

According to archival reporting, firefighters responded to an apartment fire in Jersey City late on May 22, 2014. Inside, 52-year-old Michael Galdieri was found dead. Medical examiners later determined he was stabbed to death, and investigators speculated that the fire was set to cover up his murder. 

But the killing confounded detectives for years, NJ.com wrote, until the federal case came to light this week. 

Michael Galdieri was found dead in this apartment in 2014. Sean Caddle plead guilty to the murder-for-hire scheme.
Michael Galdieri was found dead in this apartment in 2014. Sean Caddle plead guilty to the murder-for-hire scheme in federal court this week. Photo credit: Google Maps

In court filings, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said that Caddle began plotting Galdieri’s murder the month before, when he allegedly recruited the unnamed Connecticut resident to carry out the hit. 

Prosecutors believe the Connecticut contact looped in an associate from Philadelphia. Together, officials allege, the pair broke into Galdieri’s apartment, stabbed him to death, and set a fire before making their escape. 

Sellinger said that Caddle met with one of the hitmen the next day in the parking lot of an Elizabeth diner to pay for the killing. Prosecutors did not specify the amount of money Caddle allegedly paid for the murder, nor have they identified a motive. 

Galdieri, the son of late state Senator James Galdieri, was himself a Democratic political operative who had worked on campaigns for state legislative and municipal Jersey City offices, but his connection to Caddle is not clear. 

Michael Galdieri's death was a murder-for-hire plot arranged by Sean Caddle, prosecutors said.
Michael Galdieri’s death was a murder-for-hire plot arranged by Sean Caddle, prosecutors said. Photo credit: FindAGrave

Sean Caddle Faces Life in Prison

At the time of Galdieri’s death, Caddle was reportedly working for a Democratic super PAC that he had helped found. 

But his political career seems to have revolved around the patronage of former State Senator Ray Lesniak, a Democrat of Elizabeth. Caddle worked on Lesniak’s 2013 reelection campaign as well as his ill-fated bid for the governorship in 2017. 

For his part, Lesniak told local outlets that he had no idea Caddle was facing federal criminal charges until his guilty plea this week — even though they had spoken just hours before the news broke. 

Sean Caddle worked with state Sen. Ray Lesniak before he pleaded guilty to a 2014 murder-for-hire plot.
Sean Caddle worked with state Sen. Ray Lesniak before he pleaded guilty to a 2014 murder-for-hire plot in federal court this week. Photo credit: Twitter

“He didn’t say anything,” the one-time state Senator said. “I am stunned. This is so bizarre. I can’t believe it […] “He was an all-star in terms of being a political operative.”

According to court filings, Caddle agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge in October, in exchange for prosecutors dropping two charges related to the murder-for-hire plot. It’s not clear if his alleged accomplices have been indicted in connection with Galdieri’s death. 

If convicted, Caddle could face life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.