The basic structure here: 1 count of RICO applied to all 19 defendants. 161 overt acts, of which DA has to prove only 2, in furtherance of the conspiracy. 40 of those are crimes, and those are charged separately, re only those defendants who committed them as counts 2-41.
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) August 15, 2023
Most of us could use a crash course in Georgia RICO and a whole bunch of legal terms!
In a nutshell, from a law firm that handles RICO cases in GA (The Church Law Firm)
The Elements of a RICO Charge in Georgia
RICO is a somewhat complicated statute. To prove the crime of RICO, there are very specific elements with their own specific definitions. The state must also prove separate underlying offenses beyond a reasonable doubt in addition to proving RICO.
Specifically, the state must prove:
the defendant committed two or more predicate crimes (which are listed in *C.G.A. § 16-14-3);
that the predicate acts were committed as part of an enterprise engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity;
and that either:
one or more of the acts that form the pattern resulted in the defendant acquiring or maintaining control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property (including money),
the defendant was employed by or associated with an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering.
*O.C.G.A. § 16-14-3 defines and explains what these terms mean. An “enterprise” is defined as a person or business recognized under state law or some other legal entity (such as a partnership, corporation, union, etc.); or a group or association which is not a legally recognized entity but associate and identify as a group with a common purpose or goal. An enterprise can be legitimate or illegal and can also include governmental entities.
“Racketeering activity” means to commit, attempt, or solicit another person to commit a specific crime listed in the statute, which includes over 40 different types of offenses. Examples of included offenses, often referred to as “predicate acts” or “predicate offenses,” are homicide, theft, fraud, perjury, commercial bribery, drug distribution, drug trafficking and dozens more. The state is required to prove at least two of these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. The offenses do not have to be charged separately in the indictment. So long as they are listed in the indictment and proved to be a predict act, which is one of the elements to prove the RICO charge itself, that is sufficient. Furthermore, the state does not have to prove every single predicate act beyond a reasonable doubt. Proving at least two acts is all that’s required.
A “pattern of racketeering activity” means engaging in at least two incidents of racketeering activity to accomplish at least one scheme or plan that have the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of committing crime(s) or are otherwise connected by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents. For example, a group of individuals decide they need money fast by whatever means necessary and agree to split the profits. One steals debit cards and withdraws money from ATMs, another forges checks, and another robs supermarkets. While these are different crimes requiring separate elements of proof, they are interrelated for RICO purposes because they were all done to achieve a single goal: gaining money. If one of the individuals robbed a bank 10 years ago, got away with it, and then forged checks as part of the group’s scheme, the bank robbery likely wouldn’t be considered a predicate act because it was an isolated incident by a single individual and had no connection to the group’s plan and goal.
Predicate crimes that fall under this Act (and may be used to show a “pattern” of unlawful conduct) include the following: drug offenses, homicide, bodily injury, arson, burglary, forgery, theft, robbery, prostitution and pandering, distributing obscene materials, bribery, influencing witnesses, tampering with witnesses or victims, intimidation of a juror or court officer, perjury, tampering with evidence, commercial gambling, certain firearm offenses, illegally reproducing copyrighted material, various securities violations, certain credit card crimes, certain crimes involving titles, destroying or misrepresenting identification numbers, possessing automobile parts with missing identification features, various computer crimes, kidnapping, false imprisonment, terroristic threats, motor vehicle and aircraft hijacking, insurance fraud, usurious payday loans, deceptive commercial e-mail, and residential mortgage fraud.
A conviction under Georgia’s RICO statute will result in a 5- to 20-year sentence, a fine, or both. A judge may fine a defendant up to three times the amount of any money obtained by the defendant during the scheme.
I also found Harry Litman’s tweets very instructive.
Below are screen captures, but if you’re still reading twitter you might want to click over.