Why Isn’t ACORN Vote Fraud A Criminal RICO?

Posted on October 3, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: |

By Former US Attorney for Philadelphia David W. Marston

You don’t need to be John Gotti–or even Tony Soprano–to be prosecuted criminally as a racketeer. You could, instead, be the ACORN employee who gave 19-year-old Freddie Johnson dollar bills and cigarettes in exchange for signing 73 fraudulent voter registration cards in critical swing-state Ohio.

Indeed, beyond high-profile Mafia prosecutions, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act–RICO–has been used against targets as disparate as the Key West Police Department, financier Michael Milken and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. The purpose of RICO is to focus on the criminal “enterprise,” not just individual criminals, to prosecute and eliminate criminal organizations with multi-state or national reach. On conviction, RICO criminal enterprises forfeit all of their assets, and individual defendants are subject to stiff prison sentences.

RICO cases need three key elements. Criminal charges can be brought against: (i) a “person,” who is part of an (ii) an “enterprise” which includes any legal entity (iii) which engages in a “pattern of racketeering activity” (defined as committing any 2 of 35 named crimes within a 10-year period). And yes, fraud is one of the crimes that can trigger RICO.

So let’s consider the enterprise called ACORN. A successor to the militant and now defunct Welfare Rights Organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has engaged in an in-your-face 30-year effort to “organize the poor” and bring about “social change.”

Typical ACORN tactics: In 1995, 500 ACORN protesters yelling “Nuke Newt” and “We Want Newt!” overwhelmed hotel security at the Washington Hilton, where Gingrich was scheduled to speak; the Speaker’s speech was cancelled. On Capitol Hill, ACORN thugs shouting “CRA Has Got To Stay” and “Banks for Greed, Not for Need” muscled their way into control of a House Banking Committee hearing; they were finally removed by Capital Police. In Baltimore, ACORN activists dumped a huge pile of garbage in front of City Hall, and a busload of profanity-shouting protesters “demonstrated” outside Mayor Martin O’Malley’s home. [They] “scared the daylights out of my wife and kids,” O’Malley said.

Read more at the Stone Zone

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