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RICO, short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a law used to prosecute organized crime. It gives authorities or private parties the power to sue an individual for civil damages if they commit two or more predicate crimes in connection with an enterprise.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has taken a hardline stance against organized crime by using RICO, and she may soon be ready to use the statute against President Donald Trump as well, according to criminal experts.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, is a federal law that criminalizes racketeering activity conducted as part of an ongoing enterprise. Enacted in 1970 to combat organized crime, RICO also has civil applications; convictions under RICO can lead to the collection of treble damages and attorney's fees in civil cases.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Donald Trump and his associates are engaged in a criminal conspiracy, with experts believing they may use the RICO statute to bring charges against the former president and his campaign. While this approach would likely need other state-level prosecutors' cooperation, it could have grave repercussions for both the White House and Trump family members.
One possible outcome of a RICO case is that Trump could face an extended prison term and his legal team may try to block charges. While this could cause delays in the investigation, they are unlikely to have an immense effect on the situation.
Another potential risk is that if the indictments are challenged, they must be reheard in another court, which could take additional time. This could mean the judicial system won't be back up and running for several months.
If this is the case, prosecutors could face a formidable obstacle in proving the crimes against the Trumps. Proving that an instance of these offenses occurred can be especially challenging since proof must be limited and specific.
Prosecutors must demonstrate a pattern of conduct leading up to RICO violations in order to prove their case. Although this can be challenging, it's worth trying.
Even if prosecutors cannot prove the crimes, they still have a strong case against the Trumps. In addition to RICO laws, other laws exist specifically designed to prevent criminal activity and retaliation against victims of wrongdoing.
Experts predict a RICO prosecution to be difficult and could have serious repercussions for the White House and entire Trump family. Therefore, having an experienced legal team and reliable prosecutor who can prove these charges in court is paramount.
Racketeering is a criminal act in which an organized group of people engages in illegal activities. This could include anything from extortion to kidnapping, as well as fraud or money laundering activities.
Prosecutors must demonstrate a pattern of misconduct to support charges of RICO crimes. Furthermore, they need evidence showing two or more crimes committed by an organization within five years of one another.
The federal RICO Act defines racketeering as an array of offenses, such as fraud, public corruption and violent crimes like murder and kidnapping. Many states have passed similar statutes that permit police and prosecutors to investigate organized crime organizations.
Though whether or not Trump will be charged with RICO crimes is uncertain, experts believe it could happen. They point to his repeated calls to election officials, false claims about campaign finance, and the alleged efforts by associates to influence votes during the 2020 presidential election.
CNN reports that the Georgia district attorney's office, which is investigating Trump's presidential bid, may consider filing racketeering charges against him and others. They are looking into allegations that they and others attempted to tamper with election machines and submit false lists of electors in two recent elections in the state.
These allegations are sufficient to invoke New York's "little RICO" law, which permits prosecutors to charge racketeering crimes even when they cannot prove each individual offense. Lawyers noted it would be challenging for prosecutors to meet the time limit requirements of New York's racketeering law which requires them to prove two crimes occurred within five years.
Though the RICO statute may be difficult to use against Trump, prosecutors have an effective tool at their disposal. Experts note that Trump has a long history of engaging in fraud and obstruction of justice at both federal and state levels.
Perjury is a serious offense that involves lying under oath, usually during court proceedings. In order to be considered perjurer, someone must know that their statement is false and have no mental capacity to accept it as true.
Perjury charges often stem from evidence provided by other witnesses who lied to investigators or courtrooms. For instance, in the cases of business mogul Martha Stewart and former President Michael Cohen, federal prosecutors found them guilty of lying to federal officials.
Our criminal justice system relies heavily on oaths when people testify in court or official proceedings, and they help guarantee the fairness of trial processes. A witness' oath may often be symbolized by a sign reading: "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
That is essential, as it requires all subsequent statements to be truthful in order for them to count as evidence in a criminal trial. Furthermore, investigators now have more power against witnesses who are not telling the truth or are lying for other reasons.
Perjury is a crime that can be prosecuted in both federal and state courts. While the law differs by jurisdiction, perjury generally requires that the defendant had knowledge of their statement being false or had no mental capacity to believe it to be so.
That is why having the ability to defend yourself against perjury charges is so crucial. This is especially pertinent if the prosecutor has set a "perjury trap," in other words, asking questions unrelated to their investigation or issue they want you as a witness on.
Prosecutors typically do not pursue charges of perjury when it is not pertinent to the case. However, if there is evidence that defendants were involved in other criminal activities like money laundering or tax fraud, prosecutors are more likely to charge them with perjury.
Prosecutors may use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to charge President Trump with fraud crimes. The RICO Act was originally created to target Mafias and other organized crime groups, but it can be applied against white-collar criminals as well.
Prosecutors have often utilized the RICO statute to bring Mafia leaders to justice, often leading to long sentences for many of them. This is because prosecutors can obtain pre-trial restraining orders and/or performance bonds in order to seize assets from those accused under RICO.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens recently indicted John Tieri for his involvement in the Mafia. This case demonstrated how Georgia prosecutors can utilize RICO laws to go after organized crime groups such as the Mafia.
The special counsel is expected to investigate any potential links between Russians and members of President Trump's campaign, including him personally. There is also a high likelihood that prosecutors will focus on allegations of corruption or obstruction of justice that have an underlying connection to Russia.
According to Jonathan Carlson of Brookings Institution Law Center, it remains uncertain what charges will be filed against President Obama. Potential predicates for a RICO case include bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
Another potential predicate is conspiracy to commit such crimes. While this would constitute a clear violation of the law, the prosecutor must prove that the defendants had knowledge or reason to believe their actions were intended to defraud the United States.
One prime example is the fake elector scheme Trump and his associates engaged in. This deceptive practice was intended to help Trump win the election, and if any of its participants are found guilty of a RICO crime related to this endeavor, then it could significantly influence their sentencing guidelines.