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On Tuesday the New York Times reported that Sean Caddle, 44, of Hamburg, N.J., pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Newark to conspiracy to commit murder for hire in 2014. The victim was a political operative named Michael Galdieri. Caddle recruited two hitmen who fatally stabbed Galdieri and set his Jersey City apartment on fire.
What does this have to do with education in New Jersey?
Here’s the tie-in: Caddle, reports the New Jersey Globe, did more set up murders. He also was involved with a super PAC called the Committee for Economic Growth and Social Justice. This is the PAC tied to Elizabeth City School Board elections and former NJ Senator Ray Lesniak of the 20th Legislative District. In 2012 several school board members, including then-Board President Marie Munn, and district staff were charged with falsifying school lunch program applications. After the investigation concluded, Lesniak allies started the PAC to sweep out current board members and bring in new ones. In retaliation, the current board members endorsed Lesniak’s 2011 and 2013 Democratic primary challengers (who both lost).
A 2014 article in the Observer quotes Caddle:
“I’m originally from Jersey City,” he said. “I’ve worked all around the country. This dynamic of a school board that the mayor doesn’t control is rare. Just look at Union City and North Bergen, where the mayors control both arms of government. That’s different here, and I think what’s happened is negative politics that just goes above and beyond what is necessary.”
The article continues,
“But what about the negative impact of a super PAC on the democratic process, PolitickerNJ wanted to know. What about the corrosive effect of a PAC that can distill and disperse monies from vendors and businesses that are not the public interest?
“I like to think we were ahead of the curve [with the formation of the Committee for Economic Growth and Social Justice],” Caddle said. “Agree or disagree, it’s a legal entity and it’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Elizabeth School District was in the news again last week when NJ Education Report published an article about Maria Lorenz, an Elizabeth mom of two sons on the autism spectrum who is a warrior for students with disabilities. Lorenz recounts not only her sons’ stories but the deep-seated corruption embedded in Elizabeth City Public Schools, including staff members coerced into making campaign contributions to school board and municipal candidates and being forced to work on political campaigns.
Meanwhile, Lesniak describes Caddle as a “teddy bear” and a “gentle giant,” skilled at getting out the vote.
“He was the best field director in the country,” said Mr. Lesniak, who described first hiring Mr. Caddle after narrowly avoiding a re-election defeat in 2011. He won his next race handily and credited Mr. Caddle with saving his political life. “Without a doubt,” Mr. Lesniak said.
Caddle was also a political consultant for U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
From the Globe:
Caddle faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. It’s not clear whether the two men whom Caddle hired have been charged or sentenced, though the release does imply their identities are known to law enforcement.