How RICO Act that popularised Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani came back to bite him

Giuliani foresaw the mafia law's potential and cracked down on NY mobsters in '80s

Chandrayaan 3 - 1 Charges against Giuliani include solicitation of violation of oath by public officer | AFP

Former US President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani were among the 19 people who were indicted in a 41-charge document issued by a Fulton County grand jury in the Georgia state on August 15. Among the charges against them, the most notable one was Georgia's anti-organized crime law known as the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or simply the RICO Act for allegedly attempting to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in Georgia in 2020.

According to the indictment, the alleged co-conspirators "knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump".

What is RICO Act?

Georgia's RICO law is more expansive than the country's federal version, which was passed in 1970 to battle organized crime. The federal law requires at least two underlying crimes and participation in a criminal enterprise over a long period of time. Most states, including Georgia, enacted laws based on the federal Act with slight variations, according to Reuters.

Georgian version of the RICO law does not require criminal enterprises to be long running unlike the federal counterpart. According to the state law, racketeering inclues 50 underlying crimes compared with 35 under the federal law.

Those who are convicted under the Georgia charges could be handed five to 20 years imprisonment. However, the federal version doesn't have a minimum term of imprisonment though the maximum sentence is the same.

How Giuliani made a career out of RICO?

Rico helped prosecutors to target the top brass of crime families with ruthless force and Giuliani was a pioneer who foresaw its full potential. Giuliani made headlines with the 1986 “commission” case where eight of the defendants were members of a powerful New York mafia family.

“Of all the defendants, Giuliani knows Rico better than anyone, he lived with it for decades,” The Guardian quoted Michael Discioarro, a former prosecutor, as saying. “Rudy knows darn well where the line is drawn, and it’s surprising to me that he even put himself in that position.”

Charges against Giuliani include solicitation of violation of oath by public officer, false statements and writings, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, and conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

“Giuliani is objectively one of the most effective prosecutors in American history who took down the Mafia, cleaned up New York City and comforted the nation following 9/11 his spokesperson,” Guiliani's representative Ted Goodman, told the media in July.  

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