Hired HITMEN in the News: Hitman, age 74, sentenced to 16 years in prison for 2014 murder-for-hire plot

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter

Hitman sentenced to 16 years in prison for 2014 murder-for-hire plot​

By: Sophie Nieto-Munoz - March 29, 2023 4:10 pm​

George Bratsenis is one of two hitmen sentenced to prison for their role in the murder of Michael Galdieri in 2014. (Fran Baltzer for New Jersey Monitor)

A 74-year-old hitman who admitted his involvement in the 2014 killing of a New Jersey political operative was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark.

Vazquez called George Bratsenis “a dangerous man” despite his many ailments, including prostate cancer and an enlarged heart requiring open heart surgery. The sentence went beyond what prosecutors asked for, and still, Vazquez said, the sentence felt too light.
“Mr. Bratsenis helped take the victim’s life, a ‘real nice guy’s’ life, in a brutal fashion, for a paltry sum of money,” said Vazquez, quoting Bratsenis’ own words about the victim.
Bratsenis faced life imprisonment for the murder of Michael Galdieri, a 52-year-old Jersey City man who Bratsenis and an accomplice admit murdering before setting his apartment ablaze.

Sean Caddle is scheduled to be sentenced in June for his role in the murder-for-hire plot. (Courtesy photo)

Galdieri’s murder has captivated New Jersey’s political world because of the involvement of Sean Caddle, 45, a political operative who once had ties to Democratic ex-state Sen. Ray Lesniak. Caddle has admitted to orchestrating the killing.

Caddle has said he approached Bratsenis and told him he knew of a 1984 murder Bratsenis committed and asked if he knew anyone who would be willing to commit murder for $15,000. Bratsenis recruited his accomplice, Bomani Africa, and the two were subsequently hired and paid by Caddle.
Galdieri’s murder was a cold case, and Bratsenis and Africa likely would have gotten away with it if they didn’t go on to commit robberies together in Connecticut, Vazquez said. But once they were caught and Bratsenis admitted to the murder-for-hire, he “blew the case open,” Vazquez said.
That contributed to the lighter sentence, the judge said.
Africa, 62, was sentenced by Vazquez last month to 20 years for his role in the murder.
Bratsenis, who used a brown cane to shuffle into the courtroom Wednesday while shackled and in a khaki jumpsuit, apologized to Galdieri and his family for the pain he’s caused them. Bratsenis said the two men had worked together on a 2013 Senate campaign. He called Galdieri a “really nice guy.”
“I got caught between two people I thought were friends and everything, and one turned against the other, and disaster struck. Most heinous crime I ever saw in my life. I still have nightmares from it,” he said. “If there were some way or chance I could change spaces with Michael right now, I would do it. I would fall on the sword, I would do whatever I had to do, because it’s a shame what happened to Michael.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes Jr. said Bratsenis’ extensive and detailed cooperation with prosecutors brought closure to Galdieri’s family and helped authorities “solve what was effectively a cold case.” He recommended 12 and a half to 15 years in prison, noting Bratsenis’ health issues.
Vazquez accepted that Bratsenis was “significant and useful” to solving the case, saying he helped the U.S. Attorney’s Office secure cell phone records and other information they otherwise would not have been able to obtain. By cooperating with authorities, including by making phone calls from prison, Bratsenis “effectively knocked seven years” off his sentence, Vazquez said.
Still, Vazquez said, Bratsenis only admitted his role in the murder once his accomplice, Africa, turned him in on the Connecticut robberies. Bratsenis also had an extensive criminal history dating back to the 1970s, the judge noted. He was in prison when he met Caddle’s brother, which is how he met Caddle.
This was “one of the most heinous crimes” Vazquez said he has encountered during his time as a judge. Prosecutors described how the pair staked out Galdieri’s apartment, purchased knives, had an entrance and exit plan, and obtained a gas can to douse the apartment before setting it on fire.
On May 22, 2014, Bratsenis drove from Connecticut to a Newark bus station to pick up Africa, who rode in from Pennsylvania. They visited Galdieri, who let them into his apartment, and then the two stabbed him to death. There was such a frenzy that Africa was also stabbed, Vazquez said.
Bratsenis has lived his life with “no regard for others,” Vazquez said.
“I have trouble coming up with words to describe how vile this crime is. Depraved, debased, done for an amount of money that was not going to change Mr. Africa or Mr. Bratsenis’ life in any meaningful way,” he said.
Bratsenis’ sentence will be retroactive to March 24, when he pleaded guilty to the murder. Vazquez recommended he be housed at a federal medical facility in Devens, Massachusetts, for health treatments. His sentence will run concurrently with the sentence he received last April for the robberies in Connecticut, which is almost fully served.
Bratsenis must also pay a $100 fine and will face five years of supervised release after his release.
Caddle, who is on home confinement while wearing an ankle monitor, is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter
George Bratsenis “a dangerous man”
He's Greek "American" gangster.
Usually when records are sealed here in USA is because of a few affiliated (((mobsters))). Eventually it all gets exposed.

Hitman gets 16-year prison sentence in murder-for-hire plot that killed NJ political consultant, torched his house​

Adam KlasfeldMar 30th, 2023, 6:03 pm

George Bratsenis

George Bratsenis mugshot

A hitman got a 16-year federal prison sentence for accepting thousands of dollars to stab a New Jersey political consultant to death and incinerating the scene of the crime.

George Bratsenis
, a 74-year-old from Connecticut, pleaded guilty in a videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to conspiring to murder consultant Michael Galdieri. A fellow consultant, Sean Caddle, paid Bratsenis for the hit in April 2014, and Bratsenis contracted out part of the bloody deed to Bomani Africa, a longtime accomplice from Philadephia, prosecutors say. All three admitted to the scheme, but only two — the hitmen — have been sentenced.

In May 2014, Bratsenis and Africa traveled out of their respective states to Galdieri’s apartment, where they stabbed him to death and set fire to his apartment.

“After Caddle learned that the victim had been murdered, the following day, he met Bratsenis in the parking lot of a diner in Elizabeth, New Jersey,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. “Caddle paid Bratsenis thousands of dollars in exchange for the murder, and Bratsenis shared a portion of those proceeds with Africa.”

After his sentence, Bratsenis will receive a five-year term of supervised release.

Over in New Jersey, the fact that Caddle remains a free man has flummoxed the local press.

“Caddle, 45, remains inexplicably free on a $1 million bond while awaiting a sentencing date that has been repeatedly delayed, with no expectation that he will face a judge anytime soon,” NJ Advanced Media reported.

Describing Caddle as a well-known figure in northern New Jersey politics, The Associated Press reported that the consultant’s one-time clients included current Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and former Democratic state senator and gubernatorial candidate Raymond Lesniak.

Much of the docket remains shrouded in secrecy. The threadbare criminal information shields the names of all of the participants and contains few details about the crime. Unlike most federal court cases, the sentencing papers remain under seal, and several news outlets, including the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Bergen Record, moved to have them released. Prosecutors indicated that they will release redacted versions of the filings.

The plea agreement shows that the offense Bratsenis committed, a racketeering murder charge, carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but prosecutors recommended a term of between 10 to 25 years behind bars.

The AP described Bratsenis as a career criminal, sifting through decades of arrests for bank robbery, drug, murder conspiracy and weapons offenses.

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter
Africa has been in prison on armed bank robbery

In a 14-page autobiography titled “The Story Of My Life!” written in cursive and attached as an exhibit to his sentencing memorandum, Africa, also known as Baxter Keys, described his troubled childhood in Paterson.

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter

Murder-For-Hire Schemer Charged For Conspiracy To Take Out Witness In Baltimore: Feds​

A federal grand jury has indicted a man implicated in a murder-for-hire conspiracy as he sought to take out a witness cooperating with law enforcement in Maryland.

The Department of Justice announced the charges. Photo Credit: Jillian Pikora

Zak Failla

05/19/2023 4:01 p.m.

Baltimore resident Matthew Hightower, 41, is facing life in prison after being charged for his role in the murder of Latrina Ashburne in May 2016 before she was able to testify against him in a different case.
According to the indictment, Hightower conspired to, and did kill Ashburne with the intent to retaliate against her for providing tips to investigators relating to the commission of a federal crime.
Prosecutors say that the murder-for-hire scheme also would have prevented Ashburne from testifying in court against him.

Baltimore Police Department records show that Ashburne was murdered in the early morning of May 27, 2016, as she got into her car outside her home in the Cylburn neighborhood of Baltimore.
The police reported that an unknown man approached and shot her in the upper body as she tried to run. She later died from her injuries.
Hightower was charged with:
  • Two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness;
  • Witness retaliation murder;
  • Witness tampering murder;
  • Murder for hire conspiracy.
He is currently being detained. If convicted, Hightower faces life in prison on each of the charges.
Others involved in the scheme have already been sentenced to life for their roles in the murder-for-hire.


Dept of Justice

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging Matthew Hightower, age 41, of Baltimore, Maryland, with two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness, one count each of witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder, and one count of a murder for hire conspiracy related to the murder of Latrina Ashburne on May 27, 2016.

According to the five-count indictment, Hightower conspired to and did kill Ashburne with the intent to retaliate against this witness for providing information to a law enforcement officer relating to the commission and possible commission of a federal offense, as well as to prevent this witness from attending and testifying in an official proceeding.

Baltimore Police Department reports show that Ashburne was murdered in the early morning as she got into her car outside her home in the Cylburn neighborhood of Baltimore. The police reported that an unknown male approached and shot Ms. Ashburne in the upper body as she tried to run.

Arheel's Uncle

Senior Reporter
Prosecutors say that the murder-for-hire scheme also would have prevented Ashburne from testifying in court against him

Earlier ...​

Baltimore Career Offender Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering a Baltimore Woman Believed to be a Witness in a Federal Case​

Thursday, May 20, 2021

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Co-Defendant Also Face Mandatory Life Sentence in Federal Prison

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel today sentenced Davon Carter, age 40, of Baltimore, to four life terms in federal prison for two counts of conspiracy to murder a witness and one count each of witness retaliation murder and witness tampering murder, related to the murder of Latrina Ashburne, age 41, on May 27, 2016. Carter was also convicted of a federal narcotics conspiracy charge, two counts of using a cellular telephone to facilitate the commission of a felony, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. A federal jury in Baltimore convicted Carter and co-defendant Clifton Mosley, age 42, also of Baltimore, on January 29, 2020, after a three-week trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Acting Special Agent in Charge Rachel Byrd of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division.

“We will never tolerate witness tampering, intimidation, or retaliation—period,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner. “Carter and Mosley’s efforts to silence a witness resulted in the death of a woman who had absolutely nothing to do with them. Carter will now serve the rest of his life in federal prison and his co-defendant also faces life in federal prison. While there is no sentence that can ease the pain of the family and friends of Latrina Ashburne for her senseless murder, I hope that they can take some comfort in the fact that Carter will never be free to walk the streets again.”

According to the evidence presented at their three-week trial, Carter and Mosley conspired to kill a witness who had provided information to law enforcement about a good friend of Carter’s, Matthew Hightower. In June 2015, Hightower was charged federally in a health care fraud scheme. While on release in the health care fraud case, the federal grand jury began investigating crimes of violence for which Hightower was implicated, including the murder of David Wutoh. In July or August 2015, Hightower learned the identity of the health care fraud whistleblower (the witness) who also had incriminating information against him relating to the Wutoh murder. Contrary to his release conditions, he began communicating with witnesses who had been in the grand jury. All the while, Carter and Mosley remained in frequent and regular contact with Hightower.

On April 19, 2016, the grand jury returned a sealed superseding indictment against Hightower charging both Hightower and Harry Crawford and with extortion and using interstate facilities for extortion resulting in the death (murder) of David Wutoh. Ten days later, the government filed a motion requesting revocation of Hightower’s release conditions based on the new charges and his prohibited contact with grand jury witnesses. The motion was granted on May 4, 2016 and Hightower was detained. Hightower was ultimately convicted of extortion resulting in Wutoh’s murder by a federal jury on September 22, 2016, after a seven-day trial and was sentenced to 380 months in federal prison.

While Hightower was detained, Carter assumed responsibility for Hightower’s marijuana distribution business, and engaged in direct communications with the source of supply. Carter also collected money and ran other errands for Hightower.

The evidence showed that on May 27, 2016, Ms. Ashburne was murdered in the early morning as she got into her car outside the home she shared with her mother in the 2900 block of Rosalind Avenue in Baltimore’s Cylburn neighborhood. The police reported that an unknown male approached and shot Ms. Ashburne in the upper body as she tried to run. She was not robbed. At the time, the police also released a video they said showed the suspect running away from the scene.

The witness lived next door to Ms. Ashburne. The witness contacted law enforcement to report the murder and that she believed she was the intended target. The investigation showed that Mosley’s phone was in the area at the time of the murder and in contact with Carter’s phone. In addition, vehicles owned by the mother of Carter’s girlfriend and by Hightower were captured on surveillance video driving slowly through the area as if the driver were looking for someone. The evidence at trial established that Carter and Mosley each drove one of the vehicles.

Mosley faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for each of the two conspiracy counts and for the witness retaliation and witness tampering murder charges. Mosley also faces a maximum of five years in prison for distribution of marijuana. Judge Hazel has not yet scheduled a sentencing date for Mosley.