The former chief of staff to the New Jersey Senate president could go to prison for more than two decades when he is sentenced March 27, 2023.
Antonio ‘Tony’ Teixeira, 43, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud charges in Newark federal court on November 21, 2022.
Teixeira admitted to U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez that from 2014 to 2018, he conspired with political operative Sean Caddle to overcharge various campaigns, political action committees and nonprofits for work done by Caddle’s consulting firm.
With Caddle’s help, Teixeira conspired to swindle $107,800 from various political organizations operated on behalf of former New Jersey state Senator Raymond Lesniak.
U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said after bills for campaign-related services were padded, Teixeira split the proceeds with Caddle, who concealed the kickbacks by paying a portion in cash and the remainder with checks.
Some of those checks were made out to Teixeira’s relatives while others went directly to the conspirator, but Sellinger said Teixeira never reported the earnings to the IRS.
Teixeira could face a combined 25 years in prison and fines of at least $500,000, after he pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of wire fraud conspiracy.
On Teixeira’s recommendation, Caddle was hired by Lesniak to create PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations so that they could raise and spend money to advocate on a variety of issues, including supporting candidates in local races around New Jersey.
Sellinger explained that as Lesniak’s chief of staff, Teixeira wielded influence over the consultants selected by the campaigns and organizations as well as the budgets that each of these entities would have available.
Although Teixeira pocketed more than $100,000 in fraudulent proceeds and used the money for personal expenses, he never reported the income on tax forms that he filed with the IRS during the course of the scheme.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a statutory 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 is scheduled for March 27, 2023.
One of Lesniak’s political initiatives was aimed at helping elect in 2014 Bayonne mayor that would steer government contracts to the Union County Senator’s law firm.
During that time, Caddle arranged to have two men kill an associate who lived in neighboring Jersey City. Caddle paid one of the hitmen thousands of dollars in cash the following day, on May 23, 2014, at a parking lot in Elizabeth outside a diner where he had met with Teixeira.
Saying he was stunned by his aide’s guilty plea in January, Lesniak told The New York Times that Caddle was a “teddy bear” and a “gentle giant.”
Union County Democrats who knew about a state investigation into the spending by Lesniak’s super PACs and non-profits, thought those probes wrapped up in the spring of 2020.
Teixeira became chief of staff to Senate President Nick Scutari after Lesniak left office at the end of 2017.
Gov. Phil Murphy appointed Teixeira to the Union Union County Board of Elections in 2021, and since 2017 he was chairman of the Elizabeth Democratic Committee.
As political boss in New Jersey’s fourth largest city in name only, Teixeira is a protege of former County Manager George W. Devanney.
Devanney is Lesniak’s nephew and a top advisor to Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage and state Senator Nicholas “No-Show Nick” Scutari, who was elected as the New Jersey Senate president despite his record of missing court appearances while he was the municipal prosecutor in Linden.
Devanney’s wife, Angie Devanney, served as Township Administrator from 2004-2007 in Berkeley Heights, where she was elected Mayor in 2018.
In February 2017, Teixeira’s 35-year-old wife, Marlenes, suffered a stroke hours after the birth of their twin sons, Tony and Teo. That left her in a comatose state and she died on June 25, 2017.
If he goes to prison, Teixeira will need to make arrangements for his two 6-year-old children.