What is RICO and how does a law against mobsters apply to Trump in his Georgia election-tampering case?

These Dons now have something notorious in common.

Former President Donald Trump has been charged with alleged election-tampering in Georgia under an anti-organized crime law known as RICO — a statute once famously used to finally nail New York City’s “Teflon Don” John Gotti, the late head of the Gambino crime family.

The federal RICO — or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — Act was adopted in 1970 and since then states, like Georgia, have gone on to pass their own version of the law.

More sweeping than its federal counterpart, the Peach State’s RICO law, under which Trump and 18 associates are now charged, makes it a crime to participate in, acquire or maintain control of an “enterprise” through a “pattern of racketeering activity” or to conspire to do so. Notably, the alleged plot does not have to have been successful for a RICO charge to stick.

Here are some of the most high-profile RICO cases:

Former President Donald Trump looks over the crowd during the final round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023
To convict Trump of RICO, prosecutors would not have to prove the ex-president personally broke the law but knowingly coordinated with others who did.

Gambino crime family

Gambino bosses Gotti and Frank Locascio were convicted in April 1992 under the RICO Act and sentenced to life in prison — the beginning of the end for what was once regarded as America’s most powerful Mafia crime family.

Founded in 1910, the criminal organization was one of the original “Five Families” that dominated criminal activities in New York City in the first half of the 20th century.

Reputed Mafia boss John Gotti is escorted by an unidentified man through the crowds during his trial
Gambino crime family boss John Gotti was convicted in 1992 under the RICO Act and sentenced to life in prison.
Bettmann Archive

The Mafia syndicate began unraveling in the 1990s, when underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano cooperated with the FBI, which helped the feds bring down Gotti, along with most of the Gambino family’s leadership.

The family’s last capo, Frank Cali, was assassinated outside his Staten Island home in 2019.

Lucchese crime family

In the mid-1990s, prosecutors used RICO charges to dismantle the powerful Lucchese family in a matter of 18 months after several high-ranking members flipped into informants.

The Lucchese family’s downfall came after acting boss Alphonse D’Arco became the first capo of a New York mafia group to testify against the mob. This led to the arrests of the entire Lucchese family hierarchy and nearly decimated the family.

Anthony "Tony Ducks" Corallo, boss of the Lucchese crime family (back seat) and Salvatore T. "Tom Mix" Santoro, Sr., underboss of the Lucchese crime family, leave the US Federal Courthouse during the Commission Trial September 18, 1986 in New York City.
The once-powerful Lucchese crime family was dismantled in the mid-1990s in just 18 months after several of its members turned into informants during a RICO prosecution.
Getty Images

Bonanno crime family

Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino was found guilty at trial in 2004 of 11 RICO counts for seven murders, as well as arson, extortion, loansharking, money laundering and illegal gambling.

Facing a possible death penalty in a separate trial for the murder of capo Gerlando Sciascia, Massino offered to cooperate with the prosecution, becoming the first boss of one of the “Five Families” in New York City to do so.

Bonanno crime family organizational chart
Bonanno crime family boss Joseph Massino was found guilty at trial in 2004 of 11 RICO counts and subsequently become the first capo of one of the “Five Families” to turn informant.

Massino, dubbed “The Last Don,” was sentenced in 2005 to life in prison, but was resentenced to time served in 2013.

The Cowboy Mafia

The RICO Act was instrumental in taking down The Cowboy Mafia — a group of prolific marijuana smugglers who operated in the United States during the 1970s. In a span of just over a year, the group imported over 106 tons of marijuana from Colombia using shrimp boats.

Cowboy Mafia book cover
A group of prolific marijuana smugglers dubbed The Cowboy Mafia was dismantled in the 1970s thanks to the RICO Act.

Members of The Cowboy Mafia were arrested in 1978 after the feds seized one of the boats, the Agnes Pauline, while they were unloading their cargo in Port Arthur, Texas. A year later, 26 smugglers were convicted.

The head of the group, Charles “Muscles” Foster, pleaded innocent by reason of insanity and was acquitted. In 1982, The Cowboy Mafia’s suspected financial backer, multimillionaire and honorary Texas Ranger Rex Cauble, was convicted of RICO charges and sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Keeping track of all of Trump’s indictments

Former President Donald Trump is facing 91 charges in four different criminal cases following his time in office.

Here are all of the legal troubles Trump will face as he heads toward the 2024 election.

Mar-a-Lago classified docs

  • Trump is the first former president to receive a federal indictment.

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump is facing a number of indictments as he heads toward the 2024 election.
AFP via Getty Images
  • Trump is accused of taking around 11,000 documents, some containing sensitive national security secrets, and hoarding them in a haphazard manner at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate.
  • The most serious charge, in this case, carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Stormy Daniels ‘hush money’

Stormy Daniels
Former President Donald Trump is accused of falsifying business records in his “hush money” payment to Stormy Daniels.
  • Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter she claimed the two had.
  • Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges and is trying to have the case moved to federal court. He is set to appear in court on Jan. 4, 2024.

2020 election overturn bid

  • Special counsel Jack Smith charged the ex-president with four counts in connection with his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
  • Prosecutors charged that the 45th president’s incessant claims of election fraud costing him re-election “were false and [Trump] knew they were false.”

Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump stormed and rioted at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
  • The indictment is the second brought by Smith against the 77-year-old Trump.
  • A mob of Trump supporters breached the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, following his speech on the Ellipse.
  • The charges against the former president include violation of the Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, conspiracy, false statements, and asking a public official to violate their oath of office.

Georgia 2020 election probe

  • Trump and 18 of his allies and supporters were indicted by a Georgia grand jury in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the Peach State.
  • The former president faces 13 counts in the case, matching a docket prematurely posted to the Fulton County Superior Court’s website around noon.

New York civil cases

  • The former president was sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
  • James is alleging that Trump and three of his children lied to banks about his assets and net worth by billions.
  • She is seeking a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump doing business in New York state.

Donald Trump sits with kids Eric, Don. Jr. and Ivanka.
(From right) Trump and his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric are named in James’ suit.
  • In another civil case, Trump was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s.
  • Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages from Trump.
  • Trump was not found guilty of rape after the jury rejected Carroll’s claim that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman fitting room.

Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

In 1979, federal prosecutors attempted to use the RICO Act to go after Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Oakland, Calif. chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and several other members and associates.

Hells Angels check visitors to the Bulldog Bash at Shakespeare County Raceway on August 12, 2010 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
Federal prosecutors attempted to convict Sonny Barger, a founding member of the Oakland, California chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, of RICO charges related to guns and drugs, but he was acquitted.

Prosecutors attempted to show a pattern of behavior to convict Barger and his cohorts of RICO offenses related to guns and illegal drugs. The jury, however, acquitted Barger on the RICO charges after finding that there was no proof that illegal activities were part of club policy.

Founded in 1948 in Fontana, Calif., the Hells Angels is considered by many law enforcement agencies in the US and abroad to be an organized crime syndicate.

With Post wires

This article was originally posted here