Former Political Staffer Admits Role in Scheme to Defraud Campaigns

The Gold Dome.

A Union County man who previously served as a staff member in the New Jersey Senate today admitted his role in a conspiracy to falsely inflate the invoices that a political consultant submitted to various campaigns, political action committees, and IRS 501(c)(4) organizations, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Antonio Teixeira, 43, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, 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.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2014 to 2018, Teixeira conspired with Sean Caddle, and Caddle’s political consulting firms, to defraud various campaigns, political action committees, and 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.

Caddle was hired by a former New Jersey state senator (Ray Lesniak) to create the PACs and 501(c)(4)s so that they could raise and spend money to advocate on a variety of issues, including supporting particular candidates in local races around New Jersey. Teixeira served as the senator’s chief of staff and wielded influence over the consultants that the 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 Caddle’s 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 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, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy L. Tomlins, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell, Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit, and Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee M. Cortes Jr.

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