PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Jason Gusoff, 44, of Richboro, Pennsylvania entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson. United States District Judge C. Darnell Jones II presided over the guilty plea hearing in Philadelphia via video teleconference.
The defendant purchased his business, California Tanning Salon, in November 2007. For the approximately nine months that the defendant owned and operated the business, it was never profitable. The business expenses exceeded the revenue generated, and Gusoff could not make the required lease payments. On July 21, 2008, Gusoff directed his co-conspirator to set fire to the business with the intent to destroy it. After the fire, Gusoff submitted requests for payment to the business’ insurance company while making materially false representations that he was not responsible for the loss caused by the fire. These lies resulted in the defendant receiving $105,486 from the insurance company.
A federal grand jury returned an Indictment against Gusoff in February 2011. Prior to his scheduled trial in September 2011, Gusoff fled the United States using his brother’s passport. In February 2019, due to the coordinated efforts of the United States Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the Cambodian Police, the defendant was arrested in Cambodia and returned to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to answer for his crimes. The co-conspirator, who was severely burned while committing the arson and hospitalized as a result, pled guilty in 2011 and has since served his sentence.
“Gusoff has a brazen disrespect for the law – and for human life. He is lucky that no one died during this fire,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “He put people’s safety at risk, stole insurance money, and when faced with the consequences of his actions, fled the country. If you are charged in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with a federal offense, it does not matter if you flee to the other side of the world. We will find you and hold you accountable for your actions.”
“Acts of arson are dangerous crimes and threaten the community. ATF is committed to keeping the public safe from those who maliciously set these fires,” said Donald Robinson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Philadelphia Field Division. “We appreciate the assistance of our federal and international partners in getting the defendant back to the States to face these charges, and the dedication and tenacity of our personnel in the Arson and Explosives Task Force.”
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanine Linehan, the Deputy Chief of the Violent Crime Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.