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Who (Or What) Is Rico?

I’m relatively certain that even those without internet access or cable news know what’s going on with former president Donald Trump. Indeed, the man seems to be everywhere, and rightfully so, considering he’s now being indicted for a whopping fourth time.


Among the hullabaloo of attempted election fraud and the piles upon piles of classified documents found in Trump’s home, one thing kept standing out to me: some guy named Rico Charge. Alright, I’m joking around, but in reality I was lost whenever a news publication mentioned this term. So, let’s embark together on clearing up at least one thing in this rather complicated case. 


New York 5 Families

The so-called “Five Families” of crime in New York City: Pinterest

To begin, RICO is actually an acronym, standing for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The act was passed in 1970 under president Richard Nixon as a way to deal with organized crime, most notably the Mafia. Prior to this act, prosecutors could only try those suspected of mafia or gang-related activities on an individual basis. But with the implementation of RICO, prosecutors now had the ability to try every individual suspected of aiding the criminal organization at one time. 


Upon its implementation in 1970, RICO was used against New York’s most notorious Mob families, acting as the final push in the families’ decline. For four decades, these families (Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese, or the “Five Families”) were taking over New York, growing more powerful along with their network of co-conspirators. 


Although we often speak of the people at the very top of these Mafia groups, RICO was effective in that it also targeted the little guys: hit men, capos, and others that did the dirty work. The ability to charge the leaders of these groups as well as whatever lesser-known cronies helped them in their crimes led many to abandon the Mob families, ultimately leading to their decline. 


What is Trump accused of in Georgia: Read the full Fulton County indictment

Trump’s crime ring: The Atlanta Journal- Constitution

So, how is RICO being used against Trump? Well, this fourth indictment is a little different from his other three in that 18 others are being indicted along with him, and these charges are involving the state of Georgia, not the entire country. By utilizing the state’s version of RICO, prosecutors have the ability to charge all 19 people allegedly involved with a broader conspiracy surrounding the 2020 election in Georgia (although the conspiracy may not have taken place in that state). 


The federal version of RICO is rather hard to implement, whereas Georgia’s RICO is easier to use, like in the recent case against rapper Young Thug. Interestingly enough, the woman who used RICO against Young Thug, Fani Willis, is also the District Attorney charging Trump.


The charges against Trump and the 18 others are going to be hard to refute in court, built around criminal actions like “...filing false documents and forgeries, impersonating officials, computer breaches and attempts to influence witnesses” (CNN). 


From fedoras and black coats to orange-looking tans and long red ties, RICO is back and better than ever. But will the act that brought down infamous New York mobsters be enough to take down an infamous New York businessman?


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Tags: Donald Trump RICO Charge Fani Willis Mafia Indictment Mobs


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