The Soprano State The Soprano State
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Update

2022

  • Former state senator Tom Kean Jr., who is running for Congress, seems to think ducking the question of whether the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol was “legitimate public discourse” will help him in his newest quest to head to Washington D.C.

    NJ.com has repeatedly asked for his response to the Republican National Committee’s statement that the violent mob was not a violent mob.

    Kean, the son of the popular former Gov. Tom Kean, is a former state assemblyman and senator making his second attempt to become a congressman for New Jersey’s 7th District.

    In his apparent desperation to please GOP conservatives, Kean would do well to remember what happened to Republican gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler in 2001 when he decided to remain silent on Jerry Falwell’s comments after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    Falwell, a Schundler campaign contributor, blamed the terrorist attacks on homosexuals, feminists, civil liberties groups and abortion-rights supporters who had removed God’s protection from America. For many in New Jersey, Falwell’s words were an anathema.

    Gannett’s State Bureau immediately asked Schundler for his reaction, but there was no response, and the conservative candidate waited several days before disagreeing with Falwell. The delay appeared to align Schundler with conservative extremists, and political analysts said his slow response proved the final kiss of death in his campaign for the governor’s seat. Editorial Board, NJ.com, Feb. 13, 2022; Charles Stile, NorthJersey.com, Feb. 14, 2022

  • In the wake of a 2014 murder-for-hire case that appears strikingly similar to the death of his parents four months later, the son of prominent Republican John Sheridan is asking prosecutors to take another look at the stabbing death of Sheridan and his wife.

    After the Sheridan case was ruled a murder-suicide in 2015, his family hired experts to review the facts and were successful in 2017 in getting the cause of Sheridan’s death changed to undetermined.

    When longtime Democratic consultant Sean Caddle pleaded guilty last month to a 2014 murder-for-hire in the stabbing death of Caddle’s associate Michael Galdierei, whose Jersey City home was set on fire to cover up the crime, Sheridan’s son, lawyer Mark Sheridan, told prosecutors the similarities could not be ignored, as a fire also was set at the Sheridan home.

    Mark Sheridan and his three brothers never believed their father killed their mother and then himself.

    Well known throughout the state, John Sheridan, 72, was chief executive of Camden’s Cooper Health System. He served as transportation commissioner for Gov. Tom Kean and on the transition teams for Govs. Chris Christie and Christie Whitman.

    According to accounts in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sheridans were found dead in the master bedroom of their Skillman home, located seven miles north of Princeton. Both had been stabbed multiple times and suffered burns from the fire. In addition, Sheridan had five broken ribs, a chipped front tooth and was found under a burning armoire dresser. The knife used in the killings was not found, but police asked about a knife missing from the kitchen.

    The sons hired a well-known pathologist, Michael Baden, a former New York City chief medical examiner, who said John Sheridan’s other wounds were signs of an attack, and the Sheridans were likely slain by an intruder, the Inquirer reported.

    Sheridan’s sons said prosecutors all but laughed at them in the past. Now, they want prosecutors to get serious about reopening the case, including examination of a knife found in the truck of George Bratsenis, one of the men identified in court as having been hired for the Galdierei murder. The knife was found by police during a bank robbery investigation just one day after the Sheridans were stabbed.

    Catherine Dunn and Andrew Seidman, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 28, 2022; Steve Janoski, NorthJersey.com, Jan. 28, 2022; Tracey Tully and Ed Shanahan, New York Times, Jan. 31, 2022; Matt Friedman, Politico, Jan. 28, 2022

  • A longtime Democratic consultant with ties to former Sen. Ray Lesniak, Sean Caddle, pleaded guilty in a murder-for-hire case that has all the elements of a Soprano State crime, right down to the payment being handed off in the parking lot of an Elizabeth diner.

    Caddle pleaded guilty to hiring two men who stabbed Caddle’s associate Michael Galdieri (a former Jersey City Council candidate and son of the late state Sen. James Galdieri) to death and then set fire to Galdieri’s Jersey City home to try to cover up the crime, according to media reports identifying the victim. (Galdieri had worked for Caddle’s consulting group, according to Politico, and on campaigns for former Assemblyman Lou Manzo and Jersey City mayor Bret Schundler, according to NJ.com.)

    The murder is an old crime, occurring in May 2014, just months after Caddle worked on Lesniak’s last Senate campaign in 2013.

    Caddle also was a one-time aide to Lesniak and managed Lesniak’s failed gubernatorial bid in 2017, according to Politico. In recent years, Caddle “ran a network of shady super PACs that appeared to have been designed to hide the true source of the money they pumped into local races,” Politico reported.

    Lesniak told Politico that he had been working on a project with Caddle, but the former senator would not elaborate. Lesniak said he spoke with Caddle the morning of the guilty plea, but Caddle made no mention of what was about to unfold. Lesniak told NJ.com he was shocked and described Caddle as “an all-star in terms of being a political operative.”

    Lesniak can be found throughout The Soprano State, including Chapter 3 where he identifies himself as a political boss and is described as having an oversized ego. A longtime senator and party leader in Union County, Lesniak has been in the news of late voicing his support for New Jersey’s attempts to leave the mob-busting Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

    Provisions of the guilty plea revealed Caddle is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney on unspecified crimes and his court appearance raised its own questions, as the plea was by videoconference and Caddle was freed on $1 million unsecured bond with electronic monitoring allowing home detention, NJ.com reported. In addition, Caddle agreed to plead guilty in October, but the information was kept confidential, according to NJ.com. U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger, Jan. 25, 2022; Ted Sherman, NJ.com, Jan. 25, 2022; Matt Friedman, Politico, Jan. 25, 2022


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