NEWARK – A Democratic political operative who until last month served as chief of staff to Senate President Nick Scutari pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding campaigns and political action committees.

Antonio “Tony” Teixeira, 43, of Elizabeth admitted taking part in a conspiracy with political consultant Sean Caddle to falsely inflate the invoices that Caddle submitted to various campaigns, PACs and issue advocacy groups.

Caddle has separately pleaded guilty in a 2014 murder-for-hire plot in which he hired hitmen to kill a former associate. He is currently on home confinement.

Teixeira admitted that from 2014 to 2018, he and Caddle defrauded various political committees affiliated with then-Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, who sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2017, out of $107,850.

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Teixeira served as Lesniak’s chief of staff at the time. The committees were created so Lesniak could advocate on a variety of issues and support local candidates for political office.

Teixeira and Caddle padded the invoices Caddle’s firms submitted with phony expenses, and the two had agreed to split the overage. Some was paid in cash and the rest through checks made out to some of Teixeira’s relatives.

“All I’m going to say is Tony Teixeira made a mistake getting involved with Sean Caddle,” said Teixeira’s attorney, John Lynch.

Teixeira pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of tax evasion.

The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and the tax evasion charge carries a maximum of five years in prison. Both charges are also punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.

Teixeira must also make full restitution for the $107,850 and pay $47,353 to the IRS.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 27, 2023.

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