George Bratsenis, 73, last residing in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to 96 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for committing armed bank robberies.
According to Leonard C Boyle, the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, court documents and statements made in court, Bratsenis met his associate, Bomani Africa, when they were both incarcerated on robbery convictions in a New Jersey state prison.
On April 20, 2014, Bratsenis and Africa robbed a People’s United Bank branch located on Old Kings Highway Road in Darien, Connecticut. Bratsenis, driving his pick-up truck, dropped Africa off in downtown Darien.
Bratsenis and Africa also admitted to killing a Jersey City man on behalf of Sean Caddle, the longtime political consultant to former state Senator Ray Lesniak and US Senator Bob Menendez.
In that separate prosecution, Bratsenis and Africa each pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire charges in New Jersey for killing Michael Galdieri, on May 22, 2014. They await sentencing in that case.
Caddle, 44, pleaded guilty to murder but he was not incarcerated with former State Sen. Ray Lesniak as well as other prominent New Jersey Democrats.
Bomani Africa, also known as Baxter Keys or Baxter Keyes, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark, N.J., to a single count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Africa faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in a statement. Africa’s sentencing is scheduled for June 7.
Africa then entered the bank, pulled out a gun, jumped over the teller counter and ordered a teller to open drawers, saying “I will shoot you if you don’t give me all your money!” Africa took a substantial amount of cash and then left the bank. Bratsenis picked up Africa a short distance away and they left the scene.
In September 2014, Bratsenis, Africa and Africa’s son, Randi Feliciano, conspired to rob another bank.
In the early morning hours of September 25, 2014, Feliciano drove Africa from Philadelphia to a parking lot in Trumbull, Connecticut, where, at approximately 8:30 a.m., Africa stole a car from a victim a gunpoint.
The next morning, Africa and Bratsenis, both wearing masks and brandishing firearms, robbed a People’s United Bank branch located on Madison Avenue in Trumbull, taking nearly $30,000 in cash.
After they drove from the scene in the car Africa had carjacked, they parked in a nearby parking lot and set fire to the car.
Feliciano drove Africa from the scene and followed Bratsenis to a Norwalk restaurant where the three men divided the proceeds of the robbery. Feliciano then drove Africa back to Philadelphia.
Bratsenis was arrested on September 28, 2014, in Trumbull. On October 18, 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of armed bank robbery. He has been detained since his arrest.
Bratsenis has a lengthy criminal history that includes a federal conviction for armed bank robbery in April 1984 for which he received a 25-year prison sentence.
On December 13, 2014, Africa and Feliciano, both wearing masks and brandishing firearms, also robbed a First Niagara Bank branch located on Hawley Lane in Stratford, taking more than $15,000 in cash.
Africa has been detained since his arrest on May 28, 2015. On December 16, 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of armed bank robbery. He awaits sentencing.
Feliciano pleaded guilty to the same charge and, on February 21, 2017, was sentenced to 51 months of imprisonment.