Racketeering statutes were intended for the mob, but federal prosecutors are using them in unexpected ways.
Context: The most famous racketeering statute known as RICO—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—allows law enforcement to stitch together offenses over time and present them in a single case, instead of prosecuting crimes independently.
It was intended to dismantle organized crime and helped prosecute some of the biggest mobsters of the modern era.
What is it being used for now? In the past three years, prosecutors have wielded RICO on a variety of cases.
Famously it was used in the college admissions cheating scandal, it was used to prosecute traders at JP Morgan for spoofing, it took down R. Kelly, and a sex cult leader.
The Wall Street Journal reported: “Federal prosecutors have become more enamored with the RICO law’s ability to expand the story,” said James Trusty, former chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Division in Washington, D.C. Mr. Trusty said the statute effectively broadens what is considered criminal behavior under federal law and what is admissible in court. “You’re basically creating your own permission slip to introduce evidence of criminality,”
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