Tony Teixeira pleads guilty to bilking campaign funds, federal tax evasion

Tony Teixeira, Nicholas Scutari

A Union County man who was a top aide to New Jersey Senate President Nicholas Scutari, former Senator Raymond Lesniak and former Union County Manager George Devanney today admitted his role in a conspiracy with confessed killer Sean Caddle to overcharge political committees and evade taxes on the proceeds of these crimes.

Antonio Teixeira, 43, of Elizabeth— who is known as “Tony Tex” —pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. 

Caddle, who worked for SuperPACs controlled by Lesniak and on political campaigns for the power broker from 2013 through January 25, 2022, when he pleaded guilty to hiring Bomani Africa, of Philadelphia and Connecticut resident George Bratsenis, to kill Michael Galdieri at his Jersey City apartment in exchange for thousands of dollars in April 2014.

Teixeira conspired with Caddle and his political consulting firms, to defraud various campaigns, political action committees, and nonprofit 501(c)(4) organizations of $107,800.

Teixeira then failed to report this illicit income on tax forms that he filed with the IRS during those same years. 

Lesniak hired Caddle to create dark money PACs and nonprofits so that they could raise and spend money to elect candidates in local races around New Jersey, where they could then funnel government contracts to the lawmaker’s law firm and other business interests.

Teixeira was the senator’s chief of staff and wielded influence over the selection of consultants that Lesniak’s campaigns and organizations hired and the budgets that each of these organizations would receive. 

Teixeira and Caddle conspired to falsely inflate the invoices that Caddle’s consulting firms submitted to the campaigns, PACs and 501(c)(4)s with phony campaign-related expenditures.

Caddle and Teixeira were fraudulently padding the invoices because they agreed to split the difference between the actual campaign expenditures and the overage charged to the organizations.

Caddle paid a portion of Teixeira’s share to him in cash and funneled the remainder to Teixeira via checks made to out to Teixeira’s relatives in order to conceal that campaign money was being kicked back to Teixeira. In total, Teixeira received more than $100,000.

Although Teixeira pocketed these fraudulent proceeds and used the money for personal expenses, he never reported the money on the tax forms that he filed with the IRS during the course of the scheme.

The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, while the tax evasion charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison. Both charges are also punishable by a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme, whichever is greatest.

Sentencing for Teixeira is scheduled on March 27, 2023.

Caddle is on home confinement after pleading guilty to hiring hitmen to kill his former friend and associate, and is cooperating with federal authorities on an unknown investigation, according to his attorney.

Caddle’s murder-for-hire sentencing was initially delayed six months, from June 7 to Dec. 7, but is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on March 22, 2023.

Secret money in the political process deprives voters of information necessary to make informed electoral choices and makes our electoral system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation. Often used by wealthy special interests to rig the political system in their favor, secret money, also known as dark money, hinders progress on policy issues important to ordinary Americans like healthcare and tax reform. 

When politicians like Lesniak command lobbyists and other donors to fork over cash, there is so much of it that crooks like Caddle and Teixeira can steal thousands of dollars without being noticed.

Teixeira resigned from his posts as chair of the Elizabeth Democratic Party and member of the Union County Board of Elections, as well as his job as chief of staff to Scutari.

Teixeira had gone deep into debt before he became a top aide to Lesniak. A firm he created, Magellan Marketing, defaulted on a $245,000 mortgage loan from the Elizabeth Development Company in 2010, according to court records.

Three years later, in a 2013 case connected to the loan default, a judge garnished wages Teixeira earned working for Lesniak and Re/Max Realty.

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