Suspect in political operative’s slaying has bloody past

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — He’s robbed banks and jewelry stores, plotted an audacious jailbreak and once served time for a murder conspiracy.

Now, at age 73, George Bratsenis is due back in court Thursday to enter a plea in connection with a political murder mystery in New Jersey.

A career criminal from Connecticut, Bratsenis has been implicated in court — but not yet charged publicly — as one of two hired hit men who killed a Democratic political consultant in 2014.

Prosecutors have revealed very little about what led to the death of the consultant, Michael Galdieri, who was stabbed to death in his Jersey City apartment, which was then set on fire.

One of Galdieri’s colleagues, fellow political operative Sean Caddle, pleaded guilty in January to hiring two men to do the killing, but didn’t explain why he wanted his onetime friend dead.

A man who served time in a New Jersey prison with Bratsenis in the early 2000s, Bomani Africa, also pleaded guilty in the killing in January. He named Bratsenis as the accomplice who helped stab Galdieri to death.

The revelations jolted political circles in New Jersey, a state infamous for dozens of political corruption convictions in the past three decades as well as skullduggery like the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal involving traffic jams purposely created near the busy George Washington Bridge for political retribution.

Chief among the questions surrounding the case: Why did Caddle set the plot in motion? What connected him to the two ex-convicts who allegedly carried out the killing? And why have federal prosecutors said so little about the crime?

Caddle’s plea agreement referred briefly and opaquely to him providing investigators with information, but didn’t say what. The U.S. attorney’s office has declined comment, as has Bratsenis’s attorney.