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3rd figure in NJ murder-for-hire plot due for plea hearing

3rd figure in NJ murder-for-hire plot due for plea hearing

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An aging ex-convict from Connecticut is due back in court for a plea hearing this week in one of New Jersey's most intriguing political mysteries — the murder of a Democratic operative by one of his close colleagues.

George Bratsenis, 73, is expected to participate by videoconference in Thursday's hearing in a case involving the death of Michael Galdieri, a Jersey City political consultant found stabbed to death in his home in 2014.

One of Galdieri's friends, fellow Democratic political consultant Sean Caddle, pleaded guilty in January to federal charges that he hired two people to do the killing.

Another man, Bomani Africa, pleaded guilty shortly thereafter to being one of the hit men. The other killer, Africa said in court, was Bratsensis, who had also been his partner in a Connecticut bank robbery.

Federal prosecutors haven't said anything in open court about why Caddle wanted Galdieri dead.

Lawyers for Africa and Caddle also haven't discussed a motive. Caddle was — in an extremely unusual move — released to house arrest while he awaits sentencing in the murder conspiracy case.

If Bratsensis has been charged in the case, such as in a sealed indictment, that hasn't been made public either. He appeared once in federal court in Newark last month in a short proceeding that was adjourned with no explanation.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Newark didn’t comment Tuesday on the nature of Bratsenis’ plea hearing.

Africa and Bratsenis, former cellmates in New Jersey in the early 2000s, currently are jailed awaiting sentencing for a bank robbery they committed in Connecticut in 2014. Bratsenis is scheduled to be sentenced for that crime next month in Connecticut.

Bratsenis' criminal history dates back decades in Connecticut and New Jersey and includes robberies, drug and weapons offenses and an attempted jail escape.

He was incarcerated for more than three decades starting in the mid-1980s before being paroled.