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People v. Csaszar

August 23, 2007


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 00 CR 1274. Honorable Catherine M. Haberkorn, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Neville

Published opinion

After a jury trial in April 2001, the defendant, Martin Csaszar, was convicted of solicitation of murder for hire and two counts of solicitation of murder, but he was acquitted of one count of solicitation of murder for hire. Following a hearing on his motion for a new trial, the trial court granted Csaszar a new trial. At the conclusion of his second trial in 2004, Csaszar was convicted of one count of solicitation of murder for hire and two counts of solicitation of murder. The trial court sentenced Csaszar to a term of 30 years of imprisonment for the conviction of solicitation of murder for hire, and to two 20-year terms of imprisonment for his convictions of solicitation of murder, with the sentences running concurrently. On appeal, Csaszar presents four issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred when, after performing an in camera inspection of the State's informant documents, it decided not to disclose the redacted portions of the documents to the defense; (2) whether the trial judge's comments reflect that she considered inapplicable aggravating factors, such that he is entitled to a new sentencing hearing; (3) whether one of his convictions for solicitation of murder must be vacated because it violates the one-act, one-crime doctrine; and (4) whether the compulsory extraction of his blood and the perpetual storing of his DNA profile, pursuant to section 5-4-3 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-4-3)(West 1998)), violates his fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.


The First Trial

Martin Csaszar was charged by indictment with two counts of solicitation of murder for hire (720 IILCS 5/8-1.2)(West 2002)) and two counts of solicitation of murder (720 ILCS 5/8-1.1)(West 2002)) for allegedly soliciting an undercover Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent named Mark Shaffer and an ATF confidential informant named James Anderson to kill Csaszar's former employer, Monica Crisan. Prior to and during Csaszar's jury trial, it was disclosed that Anderson, who was one of the State's principal witnesses, had been paid approximately $500 by ATF for his services in Csaszar's case. On April 2, 2001, the jury found Csaszar guilty of the solicitation of murder for hire with respect to Agent Shaffer but acquitted him on the corresponding count with respect to Anderson. Csaszar was found guilty of solicitation of murder with respect to both Agent Shaffer and Anderson. Following the jury's finding of guilt, Csaszar retained new counsel to litigate his motion for a new trial. After discovery and an evidentiary hearing, the trial judge ordered a new trial based on the State's failure to disclose to the defense the full extent of the ATF's financial dealings with James Anderson in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 10 L.Ed. 2d 215, 83 S.Ct. 1194 (1963).

The Second Trial

Prior to the second trial, Csaszar's counsel issued a subpoena duces tecum to the ATF on September 21, 2001, and requested those documents that were concerned with the ATF's association with James Anderson. The ATF responded to the subpoena by tendering a copy of Anderson's contract, a list of payments made to Anderson, and a number of other documents, all of which had been redacted with the exception of the contract. Defense counsel objected to the redactions, and the trial court reviewed the unredacted documents in camera on November 9, 2001. After inspecting the documents, the court concluded that none of the redacted information would aid defense counsel in defending their client and that counsel already had all the relevant, material information contained in the documents. The court further stated that the redacted information concerned whether the information Anderson provided would be used by the ATF or concerned Anderson's involvement in cases that were not related to Csaszar's case. The court declined to order the ATF to tender the unredacted documents to defense counsel.

Before the start of the new trial, the ATF tendered additional, previously undisclosed documents to defense counsel pertaining to ATF's dealings with Anderson. Those documents also contained redactions. The court conducted a second in camera inspection with respect to the second set of redacted documents and, after reviewing them, turned over some, but not all, of the documents without redactions.

The Bench Trial

On July 12, 2004, Csaszar's second trial began. Below is a summary of the testimony that is relevant to the issues presented in this appeal.

The State's Case

Monica Crisan

Monica Crisan testified that she and her husband owned a trucking company, Livdimon Enterprise Corporation. She stated that she knew Csaszar because he worked for her uncle as a truck driver. Crisan testified that Csaszar was dissatisfied working for her uncle, and when she learned about this, she offered him a job working for her. Csaszar accepted the job offer. Crisan stated that in April of 1998, Csaszar quit huuis job with the Crisans because he wanted to go into business with his father. After quitting his job, Csaszar arranged to pick up his final paycheck two weeks later at Crisan's house. Crisan testified that prior to Csaszar's collecting his check, her husband told him to expect a deduction for some damage to one of the trucks. Crisan testified that Csaszar indicated that the deduction was fine with him.

Crisan testified that on May 3, 1998, Csaszar went to her home to pick up his paycheck and he was let into the kitchen, where her daughter was eating. Crisan testified that when she asked Csaszar to sit down, he complied but shoved the table roughly as he did so. Crisan told her daughter to finish eating in the living room. According to Crisan, when she explained to Csaszar that his final paycheck would include three deductions --- for a cash advance, for a workman's compensation claim, and for damage to a truck --- he became very upset, said he needed more money, pulled out a small gun, and pointed it at her. Crisan testified that after hearing a click and seeing Csaszar pull the trigger, she became scared and looked for the phone. Crisan testified that Csaszar told her that she would be dead by the time police arrived. Crisan testified that Csaszar then heard some noise coming from the porch stairs and ran out of the house. Crisan testified that she reported the incident to police and eventually learned that Csaszar had been arrested.

On May 5, 1998, Csaszar was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and carrying/possessing a firearm in connection with the offense. Crisan was notified by mail that she would be a witness in the case, and she went to court on several occasions where she saw Csaszar. On the next scheduled court date, December 17, 1999, police informed her that Csaszar had tried to hire someone to kill her.

James Anderson

James Anderson testified that he was a 74-year-old musician and was the former superintendent of the Chicago Housing Authority. He had worked as a confidential informant for the ATF for approximately 20 years. He also worked as a security guard at Jakacki Bag and Barrel, a company on the west side of Chicago. Anderson testified that in January 1999, he met Csaszar, who also worked at Jakacki as a truck driver. Anderson stated that in the summer of 1999, Csaszar began talking to him about Crisan and told him that she owed him a lot of money. Anderson later testified that Csaszar first spoke to him about Crisan in late November 1999. According to Anderson, Csaszar spoke about Crisan for two or three months but it became worse in November and December of 1999. Anderson testified that Csaszar told him every day that he wanted Crisan killed because she owed him money, because she was trying to put him in jail, and because he feared going to jail if she testified. Anderson testified that Csaszar asked him to kill Crisan. Anderson testified that he refused. Anderson testified that he told Csaszar that he did not kill people and that it was "not his cup of tea." Anderson stated that Csaszar told him to find someone who would kill Crisan and he would pay $500.

Anderson testified that on December 15, 1999, Csaszar gave him a piece of paper with a hand-drawn map on one side and on the other side Crisan's name, address, and phone number. At 6:45 p.m., on December 15, 1999, Anderson received a page from Csaszar, who was in Ohio. Anderson testified that later that evening, Anderson called ATF Agent Steven Brezette, whom he had worked with for five or six years. Anderson testified that he reported Csaszar's desire to have Crisan killed once he realized Csaszar was serious. Anderson testified that the following morning, December 16, 1999, he and Brezette went to the Cook County State's Attorney's office, where a consensual overhear order was obtained. Later that day, Anderson spoke with Csaszar three times by phone, and each conversation was recorded. Following these conversations, Anderson and ATF Agent Mark Shaffer, who was posing as a hit man, drove to Jakacki Bag and Barrel to meet Csaszar. Anderson testified that once they arrived, Csaszar got into the car with him and Agent Shaffer and the three men's conversation was recorded on audio and videotape.

Anderson acknowledged that between 1991 and 2002, he had been paid $17,180 in cash by the ATF and that he received $4,025 in connection with the Csaszar case, including a $3,500 reward. Anderson also testified that he received rewards from ATF in those cases which are not lost, which are settled "properly," and where the defendant is found guilty.

Audiotapes and Videotape Summaries

The State introduced into evidence audiotapes of the three telephone conversations between Anderson and Csaszar and the videotape of the meeting between Csaszar, Anderson, and Agent Shaffer. Anderson began the first phone conversation by informing Csaszar, "I have got the best news you have every heard in your life" and explained that he had a "partner" standing by who had taught him the "business." Anderson told Csaszar to make sure to bring the money and that Anderson and his partner would take care of the matter that night. Anderson promised that if Csaszar brought the money, he and his "people" would not let Csaszar down. Csaszar said that he would arrive in Chicago between 8 and 9 p.m., that he would go home, get $500, and then go to the "place."

Four hours later, Anderson placed a call to Csaszar. Csaszar was still driving back to Chicago but estimated that he would be arriving in 30 to 45 minutes. Csaszar asked Anderson to open the garage at Jakacki so he could put his truck away. Anderson responded by reminding Csaszar to bring the money. Csaszar said he did not have the money but could get it and then inquired whether Jakacki had given Csaszar's paycheck to Anderson as Csaszar had requested. When Csaszar expressed concern that Anderson had not been given the paycheck, Anderson explained that he had not gone to work that day. Csaszar then told Anderson that, given the problems parking a big truck in front of his home, he was going to go to Jakacki first, without bringing the money, and then return to his house to get the cash. Anderson told Csaszar that he should not do that but he should get the money first. Csaszar said he would page Anderson so that Anderson would know when to go to Jakacki to open the garage. Anderson closed the conversation by telling Csaszar that he should page him when he had the money.

In the final phone call, Csaszar told Anderson he had arrived in Chicago and Anderson confirmed that Csaszar had the money. The videotape of the meeting between Anderson, Agent Shaffer, and Csaszar began with Anderson introducing Agent Shaffer as the man who had taught Anderson the "business" and by informing Csaszar that Agent Shaffer was even better at it than Anderson. Agent Shaffer confirmed the nature of their relationship by saying they had worked together for 10 years. Csaszar told Shaffer that his ex-boss "had to go." Csaszar explained that Crisan had gotten him into trouble, that she was a witness, and that the only way out of it is if "she's not gonna be no more." Agent Shaffer responded by asking Csaszar if he wanted her killed. Csaszar replied that that is what he needed.

When Agent Shaffer inquired what he was willing to pay, Csaszar said he did not know and that Agent Shaffer should name his price. Anderson spoke up and suggested $500. Csaszar gave Agent Shaffer the money. Agent Shaffer then asked a series of questions regarding where Crisan lived, what she looked like, and what kind of car she drove. Csaszar stated that Crisan lived north of Lawrence on Talman and provided directions to the general area but explained that he did not know the exact address or even what the house looked like, except that it was a two-flat and that the Crisans lived on the first floor. Csaszar described Crisan as a white woman, in her thirties or forties, not tall but not short, not fat but not thin, with dark hair that was neither long nor short. Csaszar had no idea what kind of car Crisan drove. Crisan might be with her husband, but Csaszar doubted their child would be there. Shaffer also inquired of Csaszar how he wanted Crisan killed. Csaszar said he did not care. He further stated that he did not want Crisan tortured and did not want her body found. Shaffer said he would shoot her.

Mark Shaffer

ATF Agent Mark Shaffer testified about his videotaped conversation with Csaszar. Agent Shaffer stated that he had given Csaszar at least two opportunities to withdraw from the plan to kill Crisan. Agent Shaffer testified that, while in the car, Csaszar had written on a scrap of paper Crisan's name, "4325 Talman," and the words "Western" and "north." The piece of paper was introduced into evidence. Agent Shaffer testified that the address on Talman was inconsistent with Csaszar's directions to Crisan's house.

Steven Brezette

ATF Agent Steven Brezette testified that he interviewed Csaszar for approximately 20 minutes. Agent Brezette testified that Csaszar told him that Crisan had fired him because he was lazy. His final paycheck was short of money that he was owed and, while admitting there was a confrontation with Crisan, Csaszar denied threatening her. Csaszar stated that following the confrontation with Crisan, he buried a gun in Michigan, but returned there, dug it up, and gave it to police. According to Agent Brezette, Csaszar told him that he "flipped" after the confrontation with Crisan and wanted to kill her. Agent Brezette testified that Csaszar told him it was his idea to kill Crisan and that he had wanted to do so ever since the confrontation with her that had resulted in charges being filed against him. Finally, Agent Brezette testified that Csaszar told him that he had paid Agent Shaffer $500 to kill Crisan, that the police "did good" by arresting him because he would be very dangerous to society, and that he was very embarrassed by the statements he had made in the car with Anderson and Agent Shaffer.

Robert Rodriguez

Chicago police detective Robert Rodriguez testified that Csaszar also made a statement to him that was largely consistent with the statement made to Agent Brezette. Detective Rodriguez testified that Csaszar told him that Crisan had fired him because of damage to one of the trucks, that he was afraid the charges against him would result in him having to go to jail, and that he had offered Anderson $500 to kill Crisan.

Fabio Valentini

Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) Fabio Valentini testified that Csaszar gave an oral statement to him which was basically the same as the preceding statements. ASA Valentini testified that Csaszar told him he had asked Anderson to kill Crisan within the past week but Anderson had not said whether he would. ASA Valentini testified that Csaszar stated that the day before his arrest, Csaszar had spoken with Anderson by phone and offered him $500 to kill Crisan because he did not want her showing up on the next court date. ASA Valentini stated that he offered Csaszar the choice between giving a handwritten statement or leaving it as an oral statement. ASA Valentini testified that Csaszar opted for the handwritten statement but, when he saw what Valentini had written, he refused to sign it.

Csaszar's Case

Martin Csaszar

Martin Csaszar testified that he began working at Jakacki Bag and Barrel as a truck driver in the fall of 1998, where he met James Anderson, who was employed as a security officer. Csaszar testified that he and Anderson began exchanging casual greetings on an almost daily basis. Csaszar testified that Anderson frequently invited him to go out to eat but Csaszar would decline, saying he had to go home. Csaszar testified that in the spring of l999, he accepted one of Anderson's invitations because he was tired of being pestered. Csaszar testified that Anderson drove to the restaurant and paid for the meal and, after eating, the men had a long conversation. Anderson told Csaszar that he looked sad and asked why. Csaszar testified that he replied that his wife had left him, which he feared would cause problems with "Immigration," that he did not like being a truck driver, and that he had legal problems stemming from the incident with Monica Crisan. Csaszar testified that Anderson informed him that he had friends at "Immigration" who could deport Csaszar's wife and clear his record. Csaszar testified that with respect to his desire to change occupations, Anderson told him that he could assist him by helping him get a job as a government agent, although Csaszar would have to acquire the necessary qualifications but could do so by working temporarily for Anderson. With ...

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