Figure in NJ murder mystery sentenced for Conn. robberies

February 16, 2023 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Right before he was sentenced to a decade in prison for a pair of Connecticut bank robberies, Bomani Africa told a judge Thursday that, at age 62, he’s too old and ill to keep living a life of violence.

He had less to say about his most mysterious and sensational crime: the contract killing of a New Jersey political consultant.

Africa and another man pleaded guilty to murder last year in the killing of Michael Galdieri, the son of a state senator, who was found stabbed to death in a burning building in Jersey City in 2014. The duo had been hired by another New Jersey political operative, Sean Caddle, who had once been Galdieri’s friend.

Prosecutors have said almost nothing about why Caddle, a Democrat, wanted Galdieri dead. That silence has given rise to waves of speculation.

Did the murder have something to do with a yet-undisclosed corruption scandal? Was it linked to New Jersey politics? And why was Caddle, who also pleaded guilty, sent home to await sentencing under house arrest rather than get sent directly to prison? Was he assisting federal authorities in a broader investigation?

Federal prosecutors didn’t suggest a motive when they charged Africa and his accomplices in Galdieri’s killing, and none of the men involved have talked. Nor have their lawyers. Africa stuck to discussion of his Connecticut crimes as he appeared before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer in New Haven and apologized for the 2014 armed robberies.

He said he’s lived his life with the attitude that he doesn’t care.

“But I do care,” said Africa, who has spent many years in prison. “I’m much older. No way I’m going into a bank” again, he told the judge.

Meyer briefly alluded to the “elephant in the room,” during the sentencing hearing — meaning the New Jersey murder. It elicited a short discussion that revealed no new information.

Both Africa and his accomplice in bank robberies and in Galdieri’s murder, George Bratsenis, are longtime criminals with records dating back decades.

Africa grew up in an abusive home in Patterson, New Jersey, and started using heroin and committing crimes at an early age, said his lawyer, Bruce Koffsky. The crimes escalated, with Africa robbing people at gunpoint.

In 1986, he was sentenced to 50 years in prison for robbery, assault and drug crimes, according to court records. It was while serving that sentence that Africa met Bratsenis in Northern State Prison in Newark, New Jersey. The two began plotting to rob banks when they were paroled.

After getting out, Africa and Bratsenis, now 74, robbed nearly $30,000 from a bank in Trumbull, Connecticut, in September 2014, using a getaway car that they carjacked from a woman the previous day. They later burned the vehicle.

Two months later, prosecutors said, Africa and his son, Randi Feliciano, robbed another bank in Stratford, Connecticut, fleeing with more than $15,000. Feliciano pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than four years in prison.

Bratsenis was sentenced to eight years in prison last year for one of the robberies.

The judge told Africa that his robberies were terrifying and left several people with lasting psychological trauma.

“You were a willing participant in these really scary robberies ... and you made off with a lot of money,” Meyer said. “It was completely unnecessary and certainly put lives at risk.”

Meyer also said Africa did not seem deterred by the long prison sentence he served for his New Jersey crimes.

“Ultimately you gave in ... to just going back to the way things had been before ... and the way things were were pretty dangerous,” Meyer said.

Africa, whose last address was in Philadelphia, is set to be sentenced in the murder-for-hire case on Feb. 23. Caddle and Bratsenis are scheduled to be sentenced in the murder next month.