ATLANTA — Among the charges being levied against former President Donald Trump in today’s indictment are RICO charges.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has a track record of using RICO charges in unconventional ways to achieve convictions.
RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. The RICO Act was passed in the Georgia General Assembly in 1980 and is used to prove that a business was being used for illegal means.
In the beginning, the law was used to prosecute people involved in drug trafficking or organized crime but has since been applied to government officials accused of using their offices for personal gain.
The law allows officials to connect what would on the surface appear to be unrelated crimes, but have common objectives that can be prosecuted showing the patterns of crimes.
“RICO in Georgia is really easy to prove,” Former Fulton County prosecutor and current criminal defense attorney Manny Arora told Channel 2′s Richard Elliot.
In order to bring a case under Georgia’s RICO Act, there must be at least two underlying felonies -- such as fraud, bribery, murder, and witness tampering, among others.
“As long as it’s a crime that forwards the goal of the conspiracy, being in this case, the election fraud, misrepresentation, you can do it,” Arora said.
Being convicted of a RICO violation can bring a long prison sentence and it can have a powerful financial hit too, because victims of a RICO violation can bring civil suits against participants.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.
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