On Monday, Donald Trump and 18 allies were indicted in Georgia using the RICO statute for their respective roles in trying to overturn the 2020 election. According to AP, Trump, his lawyers and other allies are accused of a “criminal enterprise” to keep him in power.
The 100-page indictment, which was unsealed late Monday night, details dozens of acts by Trump or his allies, including their efforts to get Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to find votes after his election victory in Georgia fell short. Trump and his coconspirators also allegedly harassed a state election worker who faced false claims of fraud and attempted to get Georgia lawmakers to appoint a new slate of electoral college electors more favorable to Trump. The indictment also alleges that Trump and his team created a plot to tamper with voting machines in the state and steal data from a voting machine company.
Other defendants named in the indictment include Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark, and multiple lawyers including John Eastman, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro.
“The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis during a press conference.
This isn’t the first time Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has used RICO laws to charge a celebrity in a high-profile case.
Atlanta rapper Young Thug, born Jeffrey Lamar Williams, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, citing his participation in street gang activity. Williams and 28 members of his YSL team were named in the indictment, including popular Atlanta rapper Gunna.
RICO charges can oftentimes be convoluted and confusing. How can so many people be arrested for the same offenses in one big arrest party?
To understand RICO charges better, let’s take a look at what they actually mean and how they transformed from a law to stop mobsters, into one that could help put the former president and his cronies behind bars.
RICO, which stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, is the U.S. federal law that was primarily used in the ’70s to prosecute mafia and mob bosses. The law prohibits individuals or organizations (known as “racketeers”) from conducting organized criminal acts (known as a “racket”) as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. The charges come with a wide variety of criminal offenses, ranging from kidnapping and murder to more white-collar crimes like bank fraud and money laundering. Where it gets interesting is the law allows federal authorities to charge individuals or groups of individuals, even if they didn’t commit the racketeering acts themselves. And the penalties are even scary just writing about them. If convicted, each count could get you up to 20 years to life in prison, depending on how serious the charge is. Remember, that’s for each charge.
X user @Sega__JEANAsis breaks it down beautifully:
“Let’s say there are 10 people in a gang. Three people commit arson to collect insurance money for the gang. Three other people do a murder for hire for the gang. Two people do a carjacking. And two people use the carjacked car to commit a robbery of a 7-11.”
“The feds can now charge all 10 people with arson, murder, carjacking, and Hobbs Act Robbery, regardless who which of the 10 people actually did which act. Because with RICO the thought is—everyone benefited from the acts of others, therefore everyone is charged with everything.”
Let’s take a look at Trump’s other criminal cases.
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