Feds Consider Mobster Racketeering Laws to Prosecute Broader Scope of Illegal Activities by Far-Right Groups Including Proud Boys and Oath Keepers

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo Photo Source: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb on walls at the U.S. Capitol during a protest against the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, U.S., file photo, January 6, 2021. (Reuters/Stephanie Keith)

Federal prosecutors are brushing off the famous mob-centric laws from decades ago and handily repurposing them in new ways for new offenses. Armed with RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act passed into law in 1970, Feds are now discussing using these statutes to charge Capitol Hill Rioters.

Under RICO, federal investigators can connect numerous offenses and combine them to create one single case. The US Justice Department is now working on how and if to use RICO to charge numerous members of far-right groups who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6.

By using RICO, federal investigators can tackle serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping, money laundering, bribery and more. The statute allows guilty parties to serve jail time up to twenty years and to hand over severe financial penalties, including cash and assets.

Over the past few years, the feds have successfully used RICO against several notorious groups. The “blind Sheikh," aka Omar Abdel Rahman, was convicted of plotting to bomb the George Washington Bridge and the United Nations. In Boston, authorities successfully utilized RICO charges against the infamous college admissions cheating scandal, and the office of the US Attorney of Brooklyn also successfully employed RICO with racketeering convictions in the Keith Raniere Nxivm case.

Investigators are now handling over 170 people who are charged with the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat and future chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee if approved, supports using RICO against the Capitol Hill offenders.

“There are multiple statutes currently available for federal prosecutors to use to hold the perpetrators behind the Jan. 6 attack accountable, including RICO, and prosecutors should appropriately evaluate potential charges,” said Durbin.

Since groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and others obstructed an official government proceeding - the certification of the presidential election results - their actives may be considered racketeering. To prove the charges of racketeering, federal investigators must prove the far-right groups involved in the January 6 riot are criminal entities that also show a pattern of more than two crimes besides the January 6 events.

The arsenal of charges feds can bring against the far-right groups is large. Some of the federal crimes the rioters participated may include: entering the ground with “intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions”; trespassing on federal facilities and destroying and stealing federal property; possessing a firearm on federal property; to knowingly “engage in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted buildings or grounds” especially with persons protected by the Secret Service such as then Vice-President Mike Pence and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and more.

Treason is not applicable in this case; however, other laws under Title 18 concerning Treason, Sedition and Subversive Activities do apply to the Capitol Hill rioters.

In US Code Title 18 it states, “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

The Department of Justice, in considering RICO, is investigating the big picture of the numerous far-right groups but must see if they have criminal activities beyond the January 6 riots in order to charge them with the statutes.

Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli is an award-winning Journalist, Editor, and Author with over 18 years of experience contributing to New Jersey news outlets, both in print and online. Notably, she played a pivotal role in launching the first daily digital newspaper, Jersey Tomato Press, in 2005. Her work has been featured in various newspapers, journals, magazines, and literary publications across the nation. Diane is the proud recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Journalism Award.
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