RICO: The Crime of Being Mayor
Many of the posts in this weekly blog have been inspired by podcast episodes. People have always loved TV shows that draw attention to intriguing real-life crimes and court cases. Within the last decade, the podcast genre has taken this on. Real-life crime and court case-inspired podcasts dominate the podcast charts.
Crimetown is one of those podcasts. The first season of this podcast just came to an end, highlighting the prevalence of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island from the 1970’s to the present. It drew attention to the kind of organized mob crimes you would expect, but there was one that stood out: Racketeer Influenced and and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO, for short.
What Is RICO?
The way you define RICO depends on your point of view. Prosecutors view RICO as the closing of a legal loophole that allows for the prosecution of organized crime bosses who send out others to conduct criminal activity.
The Virginia Code, heavily influenced by RICO, makes it illegal to be in a position of “organizer, supervisor, or manager” for any kind of racketeering activity, which includes – but is not limited to – “murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, and drug crimes.” A first offense is a felony with an imprisonment of five to forty years and a fine of up to $1 million.
A defense attorney would probably love the definition of RICO that was given in the Crimetown podcast. Vincent “Buddy” Cianci – former mayor of Providence – was found guilty of RICO. Several members of the Providence mob said that they had acted on Cianci’s behalf, and a jury agreed.
Cianci had not been proven of actually committing any of the crimes that the mob had carried out. Cianci himself, however, said it best. “I was convicted of being the mayor.” Because of what Cianci’s associates had done to help Cianci while he was in office, this is a fitting definition of RICO.
Recent Uses of RICO and Similar Laws:
Last year, 13 members of a Virginia gang, the Mad Stone Bloods, were charged under RICO. This got the attention of the media because of the number of defendants and because a few of the gang member charged worked for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Sports fans will remember those shocking arrests of FIFA executives in 2015. Jack Warner, Jeffrey Webb, and others were charged of crimes under the RICO Act. FIFA, the governing body of world soccer that is best known for organizing the World Cup every four years, has had to overhaul its leadership in the last two years because of racketeering activity conducted by several of its well-connected members.
RICO is obviously not something that most people can be convicted of. You have to be a leader in an organization that is carrying out criminal activity. The point is not that this can happen to you; it’s more to educate you about how far the law can reach. This is why defense attorneys are so important; they are needed to balance the power of the law as much as possible.
No matter what the charge is that you may be facing, you need the right defense attorney to help you. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
Case Results Disclaimer:
Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. The outcome of every case will depend on a variety of factors unique to each case and case results depicted here do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
Attorney/Client Relationship Disclaimer:
This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
Blog Content Disclaimer:
The blog posts contained on this website were written, in part, by a non-lawyer employee of Jordan B. Davies. However, each post has been carefully reviewed and edited by Jordan B. Davies to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.