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Murder-for-Hire Failed Twice

Andrew Gordon wanted a hit man to kill his wife.

Only problem was, he confided in someone who tipped off police and the would-be "hit man" turned out to be an undercover officer. So Gordon sought another hit man to kill the undercover officer and the tipster.

But you just can't get good help these days, and the second potential conspirator squealed on him. Gordon got 20 years in prison.

Single Plot

In United States of America v. Gordon, a trial court convicted Gordon on five counts of using interstate commerce in hiring a person to commit murder. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, but vacated the sentence.

Because the government charged the defendant in separate counts for separate uses of the facilities of interstate commerce without considering the number of plots or the number of intended victims, the appeals panel directed that the counts be merged and the case be remanded for resentencing.

It resolved an issue of first impression with a holding that the appropriate unit of prosecution under 18 U.S.C. Section 1958(a) is a single plot to murder. The charges against Gordon were erroneously based on the number of times interstate commerce was used, the First Circuit said.

The facts of the case left a bigger impression in the appellate decision. Judge Bruce Selya told the story well.

"Tall Tale"

The second act started in jail where Gordon was being held on charges of planning to kill his wife. While there, the judge wrote, Gordon asked a fellow inmate if he knew anyone who "had the balls to kill."

"Lightning sometimes does strike twice, and the defendant was betrayed a second time," Selya said.

Coordinating with law enforcement, authorities used another undercover agent on the outside. Gordon corresponded with him through the mail and intermediaries to plan the murders.

At trial, his attorney argued that Gordon had been pretending. "The jury proved unreceptive to this tall tale," Selya wrote.

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