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RICO Law In The News

RICO Law In The News

The recent indictment in Georgia against former President Donald Trump—along with 18 others—follows his contest of the 2020 election results. This high-profile political case is based on the state RICO laws in Georgia.

What Is RICO?

The abbreviation RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations. The law was originally passed in 1970 to help combat organized crime in the US. Today RICO has much wider applications, including interstate and overseas commerce.

Prior to RICO, prosecutors had difficulty connecting leaders of organized crime leaders to the individuals committing the crimes. Seemingly unconnected crimes can be pulled into one case. RICO helped prosecute the leaders alongside the “minions” who actually carried out the criminal activity. 

Crimes Under RICO

RICO covers an array of crimes, especially those that are seemingly separate but are, in fact, related. If two or more of these acts are proven to occur within a period of ten years, they become a “pattern of racketeering activity.”

The federal RICO Act includes a list of 35 crimes, such as:

      • Arson

      • Bankruptcy or securities fraud

      • Bribery

      • Counterfeiting

      • Criminal copyright infringement

      • Dealing in obscene matter

      • Dealing or trafficking a controlled substance

      • Embezzlement of union funds

      • Extortion

      • Fraud

      • Human smuggling

      • Kidnapping

      • Money laundering

      • Murder

      • Obstruction of justice

      • Robbery

      • Terrorism

    Georgia’s state RICO laws includes a total of 65 crimes. Florida also has its own RICO laws under Chapter 895 of the Florida Statutes.

    In addition to criminal charges, a plaintiff can also file a separate civil RICO action against a defendant for financial damages.

    Ironically, one of the co-defendants, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani, used RICO to combat organized crime during his tenure as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York during the 1980s. Guliani is one of Trump’s former attorneys.

    How Georgia Is Using RICO To Charge Trump & Company

    The basis of Georgia’s indictment is that Trump and the other defendants conspired to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election by various means. The Fulton County Court’s website indicates Trump was indicted along with 18 others, including 16 “false electorates” in Georgia. The Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, plans to bring the case to trial in the next six months and try all 19 defendants collectively.

    The petition includes 41 different charges including perjury, conspiracy to commit computer theft and computer trespass, conspiracy to commit election fraud, and violation of Georgia’s RICO act, among others as part of a “broad conspiracy.” The use of RICO collects all charges into a single indictment showing a pattern of criminal activity.

    RICO was Willis’ signature before becoming DA. She used Georgia’s RICO laws to bring charges against 12 Atlanta teachers accused of changing their student’s standardized test scores to increase their own compensation, winning convictions for 11 of the 12. Willis also used RICO in two separate cases against multiple individuals accused of street gang criminal activities, including rapper Gunna.

    Florida Can Bring Charges Under RICO

    Although this prominent case is being prosecuted in Georgia, Florida residents can also be charged under Florida’s RICO laws.  Anyone who is even nominally involved in a pattern of crime can be charged under Florida’s state racketeering statute or under Federal racketeering statutes. This includes legitimate organizations engaged in crime patterns. Prosecutors can bring RICO-related charges for a variety of crimes in one indictment.

    If you’re accused of a crime here in Florida under RICO, you need immediate legal representation.  Given that any number of different crimes can be collectively charged under RICO and conviction carries harsh, long-term penalties, you need a good . Our attorneys have considerable experience defending clients against RICO charges.

    Criminal Defense Attorneys For RICO Cases

    A RICO charge is a felony, whether on the state or federal level. You need a strong criminal defense attorney who can represent you in both state and federal court and protect your rights.

    If you are facing RICO charges or any criminal charges in West Palm Beach, contact Farkas and Crowley P.A. today. You can call us right now at 561-444-9529 to discuss your case.

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