Friday, April 13, 2012

Rico in a Nutshell: Thank you, Jeffrey Grell

We have serious problems in the family court arena with an increasing set of services being ordered, by judges, for parents or children to "consume."  There have been complaints in Lackawanna County, reported in the news (2011) of overbilling, forcing parents to pay in cash to see their children (either pay up or you can't see your kid sure sounds to me like a form of extortion!), and (thanks to a Federal Lawsuit exposing how the GALs were assigned) possibly bypassing legal methods for hiring individuals (i.e., Ross/Termini) and letting them operate out of the county courthouse building.

That's why I'm bringing up RICO.  Because that's what it sounds like to me -- it sounds like a pre-planned "racket" of writing laws to accommodate special interests within certain nonprofit groups -- regardless of their impact on the public, including poverty and homelessness, eventually.

It involves MORE than one person, and it involves an appearance of legitimacy to cover up corrupt purposes and illegal acts.  (Read the law for more exact definitions). At the bottom, I list a criminal defense attorney's listing of types of crime that might be involved (whether Federal, Felony, etc.)  

And at the bottom portion of the post, I cite a specific example out of Chicago, which involved an attorney and two police officers, plus the attorneys law firm and the two police departments.  They'd been engaged in previous criminal (i think, racketeering) activity which may sound familiar (i.e., kickbacks for steering cases), but -- having this already in place -- it escalted to planning, executing, and obstructing the investigation of a murder.
(the 3 people involved got caught and incarcerated, incidentally)

It's pretty serious stuff, in other words!   I want people to understand these concepts -- because I believe it's closer to the truth in the family court issues than, and a lot more profitable to screen OUT (if it's NOT occurring) than calling the court professionals bad names, which pretty much is  going to get "reform" nowhere, unless some lawsuits for slander perhaps.  If we are going to be a lawful society, then point out which laws have been violated, matching the facts to the law.

Because family law itself is so UNinterested in "facts" as opposed to psychology (and so forth) -- it would seem that any prosecution or reform efforts, if there HAS been criminal activity -- would relate to things NOT under the province of family law.  That is where there is a more solid standing.  I also believe that if all RICO type activity can be gotten out of this system, it might have a fighting chance of being  decent system.

(That's a long shot, but who knows?)

So, here we go!  Notice the types of criminal acts mentioned as examples here:

From WiseGeek, basic concept:  What is Racketeering?

Racketeering is the act of operating an illegal business or scheme in order to make a profit, perpetrated by a structured group. It is a broad category of criminal acts that includes bribery, sexual exploitation of children, and illegal gambling, among many others. Racketeering is closely associated with organized crime, since both are conducted by groups.
Racketeering encompasses many criminal acts. It includes theft and fraud against businesses or individuals. Governments can be victimized by racketeering; examples include counterfeitingmoney and trading in untaxed alcohol. Racketeering can also take the form of providing illegal services, such as prostitution or drug trafficking. Racketeering also takes place among legitimate businesses or labor unions, where it is sometimes referred to as white-collar crime. Examples include extortion and money laundering.
The criminal organizations who engage in racketeering often have legitimate businesses, for instance licensed gaming establishments or a labor-based business such as garbage collection, in order to provide cover for their rackets. In addition, racketeering is often aided by the bribing, blackmailing, or extortion of public officials or civil servants. Legitimate business owners can be similarly manipulated in order to help criminal groups and their racketeering practices to appear lawful.

What is the RICO Act?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The Act appears at Title 18 of the United States Code, section 1961, et. seq.
"When originally passed by Congress in 1970, the RICO Act was aimed at reducing and eventually eliminating the influence of the Mafia and other organized criminal syndicates over the United States economy."

My goal here is not to explain it.  My goal is to get family court distressed people to go to this site and get a basic understanding of it.  When he says "In a nutshell," this is a beautiful, and coherent outline.  More than you'll ever get on my blogs!

Despite all the hoopla about the RICO situation in Luzerne County, my sense is that most of the people I have heard complaining and talking about Lackawanna County, still don't grasp that there is a PATTERN.  They see the pattern in individual personality or official who is causing them the most pain, or maybe someone pretty closely connected to it, in the local area.

But beyond that, they seem to lose the scent.  I haven't, and it frightens me to be living in a country where this isn't understood, and more people aren't raising hell to stop legalized RICO in (this is my sense) the family court system.   I definitely can name a number of entities trying to cover up the "Franchise" element of the family court programming.  I'm actually getting rather concerned that (as it now stands) the U.S. Government itself isn't being operated as such a criminal organization.    Hopefully I may be forgiven these sentiments after over two decades of attempting to stand up against some (from this point of view) horrific and outrageous treatments (to the sounds of silence) in more than one institution of life, the first significant one being called marriage, with a religious flavor.

It is HARD to get out from underneath extortion -- that's the very definition of extortion; someone is forced into a corner, by threat, and has to "give it up" or they or a family member will be severely hurt, or economically destroyed.

Thank You, Mr. Grell for putting this information on-line to help those of us who'd take a lot longer to assemble the information from scratch, or from reading about various RICO prosecutions, and doing so in lay terms.

Jeffrey Ernest Grell – Attorney at Law
Jeffrey E. Grell is the author of Grell on RICO, which Jeff developed for use in teaching his class at the University of Minnesota. The book draws on Jeff’s experience as an attorney prosecuting and defending civil RICO claims since 1990. Jeff has a widely recognized understanding and appreciation of the RICO Act. Jeff’s insights regarding the RICO Act have been frequently sought out by business persons, attorneys, journalists, professors, teachers, students, and members of the general public. To learn more about Jeff’s background and experience, view his Biography or CV.

For the public:

GRELL ON RICO is available for purchase by webvisitors. Click here to buy the book.


Although the RICO Act can be employed under many circumstances, the statute is most easily understood in its intended context: the Mafia. In a typical Mafia prosecution under RICO, the defendant person (i.e., the target of the RICO Act) is the Godfather. The “racketeering activity” is the criminal activities in which the Mafia engages, e.g., extortion, bribery, loan sharking, murder, illegal drug sales, prostitution, etc. Because the Mafia family has engaged in these criminal actions for generations, the criminal actions constitute a pattern of racketeering activity. The government can criminally prosecute the Godfather under RICO and send him to jail even if the Godfather has never personally killed, extorted, bribed or engaged in any criminal behavior. The Godfather can be imprisoned because he operated and managed a criminal enterprise that engaged in such acts. Moreover, under section 1964(c) of the RICO Act, the victims of the Mafia family (i.e., the extorted businessman, the employers whose employees were bribed, debtors of the loan shark, the family of a murder victim) can sue the Godfather civilly and recover the economic losses they sustained by reason of the Mafia family’s pattern of racketeering.

RICO is really bad stuff.  Here's a sample.


The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68 (1994).
  • Sec. 1961. Definitions
  • Sec. 1962. Prohibited activities
  • Sec. 1963. Criminal penalties
  • Sec. 1964. Civil remedies
  • Sec. 1965. Venue and process
  • Sec. 1966. Expedition of actions
  • Sec. 1967. Evidence
  • Sec. 1968. Civil investigative demand
   Sec. 1961. Definitions
As used in this chapter -
(1) “racketeering activity” means (A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year;

(B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: Section 201 (relating to bribery), section 224 (relating to sports bribery), sections 471, 472, and 473 (relating to counterfeiting), ..., section 664 (relating to embezzlement from pension and welfare funds),  section 1028 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents), ** sections 1461-1465 (relating to obscene matter), section 1503 (relating to obstruction of justice), section 1510 (relating to obstruction of criminal investigations), section 1511 (relating to the obstruction of State or local law enforcement), section 1512 (relating to tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant), section 1513 (relating to retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant), . . .

sections 1581-1588 (relating to peonage and slavery), section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion), section 1952 (relating to racketeering), section 1954 (relating to unlawful welfare fund payments**), section 1955 (relating to the prohibition of illegal gambling businesses), section 1956 (relating to the laundering of monetary instruments), section 1957 (relating to engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity), section 1958 (relating to use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire), sections 2251, 2251A, 2252, and 2260 (relating to sexual exploitation of children)

Now Go Forth and READ!

This is from a Miami Attorney (Defending AGAINST those accused of crimes, including RICO).  David J. Joffe.  My interest in copying from the left column of his main page is to show the listing of Federal Crimes, simply for reference.  Below that, it also has a list of "Felony" Crimes:

About "RICO" he says:

RICO laws are covered under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. They were designed to make the penalties for crimes committed in conjunction with a criminal organization more severe and cover any two out of a list of 35 federal and state crimes. Racketeering charges require establishment of the existence of a criminal organization and identification of a pattern of racketeering over time. These crimes include embezzlement, murder, obstruction of justice, arson, counterfeiting, and others. RICO violations involve two such crimes over the course of ten years with similar intentions or results; a provision of RICO also allows civil plaintiffs to seek triple damages for RICO claims. 

What are the Penalties for RICO Crimes?

The penalties for RICO violations are severe – a fine of up to $25,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. If you have been charged with RICO violations, it is essential that you seek an experienced RICO attorney who can help protect your interests and civil rights as you undergo this complicated legal process.

AND Felony Crimes:

 I do not know this attorney, I am not an attorney, and posting this on here is not a commentary on his services.  I aim to teach -- from a "laypersons" (I'm not a legal professional) and without knowing the vocabulary, people cannot speak clearly about what their complaints are.  There's a difference from a bad decision and a pattern of criminal activity.  Know the difference!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Anyone interested in an example of RICO as to The Chicago area, should look up the story of Dianne Masters & Alan Masters.  However, it's graphic, chilling, and frightening.  Do NOT read below the line if those things distress you.

 =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

How I heard about it:  Actually I was tracking a DV organization of some sort, and they had something named after her.

Dianne Masters Cup Golf Outing for Crisis Center

The Crisis Center for South Suburbia will host the annual Dianne Masters Cup golf outing and dinner on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park. The event is named in honor and memory of the late Dianne Masters, who founded the organization in 1979. 

In choosing to have an affair and planning to divorce her husband, Dianne Masters had taken a gamble. When she lost, the price would be her life.
Dianne Disappears
On the evening of March 18, 1982, Dianne attended a board meeting at the college. She didn't see Jim that evening as they had agreed it would be best, until her divorce was finalized, that he not attend.
When the meeting adjourned, Dianne went out for drinks with other boards members as was customary. As she said good-bye to the others in the parking lot at about 1:00 a.m. on the morning of March 19, no one knew it was the last time Dianne would ever be seen alive.

I ran across a ruling which described how this was a RICO arrangement between Alan Masters, Mike Corbitt & James Keating.  Thankfully this time, they all went to jail for it -- but it didn't help Dianne.

This narration is from "PROJECT POSNER" (about Judge Posner) and it is an opinion, as follows.  Consider what were the RICO elements here:



Nos. 89-2851, 89-2872, 89-2873

December 14, 1990, Argued—February 6, 1991, Decided

Lead opinion by POSNER

    1365 POSNER, Circuit Judge
   Alan Masters and James Keating were charged in 1988 with, among other things, having "conducted an . . . enterprise's affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), and (along with Michael Corbitt) of having conspired to do so, in violation of § 1962(d); both are, of course, provisions of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute. The statute provides that "enterprise" "includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity." § 1961(4). The statutory term "pattern of racketeering activity" "requires at least two acts of racketeering activity," § 1961(5), defined as violations of various federal and state statutes. The jury found Masters and Keating guilty on both counts and Corbitt guilty on the conspiracy count -- the only one he had been charged with, because the statute of limitations had expired on his substantive violations. The judge gave Masters and Keating consecutive prison sentences of 20 and 20, and 20 and 15, years, respectively, and Corbitt 20 years. The judge also fined Masters $ 250,000 on the conspiracy count and ordered all three defendants to forfeit criminal proceeds of $ 42,000. These are all pre-Sentencing Guidelines sentences. There were other counts in the indictment besides the two RICO counts, but the jury acquitted the defendants on those counts.

. . .

The facts are a lurid mixture of corruption and murder in a west suburban Chicago setting. Masters was a lawyer, Keating a lieutenant in the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department who commanded the vice squad and later the criminal investigative unit, and Corbitt the chief of police of Willow Springs. The RICO enterprise, as the government conceives it, was an informal association among the three defendants and three other entities (so a total of six in all): Masters' law firm (a professional corporation of which he was the sole shareholder and which employed another lawyer) and the two police departments.
 3 Individuals (a lawyer, Cook County Police Lieutenant (Vice/Criminal Investigation), and another police chief + 3 firms:   Masters' Law Firm & 2 Police Depts. = 6.

Between 1970 and June 1982, when Corbitt lost his job as chief of police of Willow Springs, Masters bribed Corbitt to refer persons arrested, ticketed, or investigated by the Willow Springs Police Department to Masters for legal assistanceMasters had similar kickback schemes with other police officers in the area
Kickbacks involve rewards for referrals or steering business, I guess. i.e., "Bribed"
Keating entered the picture in 1972, two years after Corbitt. Between then and August 1984 Masters was the middleman in a scheme in which illegal bookmakers in Cicero, Illinois bribed Keating and officers under Keating's command to leave them alone.
 The officers (law enforcement)  looked the other way, for pay.....
   In 1981 Masters discovered that his wife, Dianne, was having an affair.
Their marriage began as an affair (she was his mistress).  The whole thing is full of affairs, his, and hers... He was also (per another account) physically abusive.
He asked a friend in the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department who would be in charge of any investigation arising out of events at Masters' home, and was disappointed when told that it would not be Keating. In January 1982 Dianne Masters hired a lawyer to file for a divorce. She let it be known that she hoped to obtain custody of her and Masters' four-year-old daughterMasters hired a former police officer, Ted Nykaza, to install recording equipment in the Masters household for the purpose of eavesdropping on telephone conversations between Dianne and her paramour.
. . . . (he plans to kill her on hearing something about the sex play)...

Several individuals had already been involving in an ongoing operation (prior to the events surrounding Dianne).  She had married a crook....
Later he told a friend that he would ask Keating to kill her. Keating offered a former Cook 1366 County Sheriff 's Police officer $ 25,000 to kill Dianne onMasters' behalf, explaining that Corbitt was unwilling to do the killing himself but had agreed to dispose of the body.
 in case there's any question what kind of characters are involved here....
   Dianne Masters disappeared in the early morning of March 19, 1982. Her body was recovered from the trunk of her car nine months later when the car was discovered submerged in a canal near Willow Springs. She had been beaten and shot. Probably Corbitt had driven the car into the canal, though the jury's findings on this point are ambiguous. In the following months Keating used his position in the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department to obstruct the investigation of Dianne Masters' disappearance. Masters collected the proceeds of a $ 100,000 policy on Dianne's life. No one was ever charged with the murder.

   The jury found that Masters had planned and solicited the murder of Dianne, that Keating had aided and abetted Masters' planning and solicitation, that Keating had obstructed the investigation, that (subject to our earlier qualification) Corbitt had sunk the car in the canal, and that all three defendants had agreed to conceal their actions relating to Dianne's murder indefinitely.

RICO.  more commentary, again from Judge Posner:

The questions relate to the statutory requirements of "enterprise" and of "pattern." The alleged enterprise is an informal consortium of a law firm and two police departments with the three individuals who are the defendants.

The defendants argue that a RICO enterprise, unless it is a legal entity such as an individual, a partnership, or a corporation, can only be a "union or group of individuals" (emphasis added), which Masters' law firm, the Willow Springs Police Department, and the Cook County Sheriff's Police Department are not.

The argument has repeatedly and we think correctly been rejected, illustrative decisions being United States v. Feldman, 853 F.2d 648, 655 (9th Cir. 1988), and United States v. Perholtz, 268 U.S. App. D.C. 347, 842 F.2d 343, 352-53 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (per curiam). The statute says "'enterprise' includes" -- not "'enterprise' means." The point of the definition is to make clear that it need not be a formal enterprise; "associated in fact" will do. Surely if three individuals can constitute a RICO enterprise, as no one doubts, then the larger association that consists of them plus entities that they control can be a RICO enterprise too. 
A criminal enterprise is more, not less, dangerous if it is versatile, flexible, diverse in its objectives and capabilities. Versatility, flexibility, and diversity are not inconsistent with pattern. The systematic corruption of law enforcement in the west Chicago suburbs brought about by the Masters enterprise could be used for a variety of purposes without destroying the integrity, the rationale, of the enterprise. The acts of a criminal enterprise within the scope of the enterprise's evolving objectives form pattern enough to satisfy the requirements of the RICO statute.
(sorry, but that reminds me of the "Evolving purpose of child support enforcement")

Like many a small businessman, legal and illegal, Ianni, A Family Business: Kinship and Social Control in Organized Crime 112, 127, 142 (1972), he did not make a rigid division between his business and his personal affairs.

. . . .

The strongest evidence is the handling of the problem of dealing with Dianne Masters. When that problem arose, a loose-knit but effective criminal organization was in place ready to respond effectively by planning and carrying out a detection-proof crime that would have been beyond the capacities of the individual defendants acting either singly or without the aid of their organizations.

   Criminal enterprises have less structure than legal ones. For formal relationships created by contract and rule they substitute informal relationships based on kinship and friendship. Ianni, supra, at 154, 157, 172. It would be ironic if the RICO statute, aimed primarily at criminal enterprises such as the Mafia and its many petty imitators, was more effective against legal enterprises because the latter have a more perspicuous, articulated structure.


This opinion is, again, here.  Remember also that "in a Nutshell" is a more outlined and formal explanation of what is RICO.   "Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations."

They are organized -- but they are corrupt.
A person who commits crimes such as extortion, loansharking, bribery, and obstruction of justice in furtherance of illegal business activities.
intr.v. rack·et·eeredrack·et·eer·ingrack·et·eers
To carry on illegal business activities that involve crimes.

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