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United States v. Gajo

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
290 F.3d 922 (7th Cir. 2002)


Facts

Bogdan Gajo (defendant) owned a specialty ethnic food store that burned down. An investigation revealed that gasoline was used to intentionally set the fire. One week after the fire, Gajo submitted an insurance claim for the damage. Investigators later learned that Gajo had a relationship with Jay Smith and Edward Baumgart. Smith told federal agents that Baumgart approached him on behalf of Gajo and indicated that Gajo urgently needed a building burned down. Gajo and Baumgart offered Smith $4,000 to set fire to the store but Smith declined. Nearly 10 months after the fire, federal agents directed Smith to telephone Baumgart to talk about the fire. During two recorded conversations, Baumgart instructed Smith not to talk about the fire with law enforcement. Baumgart also talked about a meeting that occurred between the three men and that the investigation had not yet been closed. Gajo’s insurance claim was eventually denied. The United States (plaintiff) charged Gajo with conspiracy to commit arson. At trial, the tape-recorded conversations between Baumgart and Smith were admitted into evidence. Gajo was convicted and he appealed, arguing that the district court improperly admitted the tapes.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Flaum, C.J.)

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