A federal grand jury in Columbus OH has indicted 17 people for racketeering for their involvement in various violent crimes, including 12 murders and other attempted murders as well as drug trafficking and weapons trafficking. All of the defendants stand accused of working in an organized crime gang called the Short North Posse. Eleven of the defendants could face the death penalty if they are convicted.
According to the US Attorney on the case, Carter Stewart, the indictment states that starting in 2005, members of this criminal gang started to refer to themselves as the Short North Posse. Later, some members of the gang started new subsets of the gang, calling themselves the Cut Throat Committee and the Homicide Squad. They specialized in murdering and robbing rival gang members and other drug dealers.
The indictment states that one or more of the defendants was involved in 12 unsolved murders, 23 attempted murders, 40 violent felonies and 42 offenses with deadly weapons. The crimes happened from 2005 to 2012 in various cities and towns in Ohio.
Stewart noted that as part of the investigation, law enforcement established a tip line this year to get more information on unsolved murders in OH. There was a good deal of public response and law enforcement worked hard on the case, which resulted in the grand jury indictment.
About Federal Racketeering Laws
Laws against racketeering arose in the 20th century due to the problems with prosecuting leaders of criminal gangs. Under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the US government wanted to address some of the loopholes in federal laws that had allowed some criminal kingpins to avoid being prosecuted for serious crimes. They did this by not directly associating with the criminal acts that their subordinates had done. Today, RICO laws are the primary way that large criminal enterprises are prosecuted.
Federal racketeering laws define many types of criminal activities that are based upon a criminal gang’s status as one that gets its revenue from criminal acts. It is not legal to acquire, establish or operate any enterprise with income that is illegal. These laws are effective in helping US federal prosecutors to charge crimes against higher level crime bosses who may have been able otherwise to distance themselves from the criminal charges.
RICO laws provide for various types of punishment upon conviction. RICO imprisonment can be up to 20 years. However, in the case above, the charges also involve accusations of murder, so there is the potential that some RICO cases can involve life in prison or even the death penalty.
The federal government takes racketeering very seriously, because there usually are many illegal acts being committed by the criminal enterprise. Crime gangs usually are involved in bribery, extortion, murder, drug deals, drug trafficking, prostitution and more. In addition to long prison sentences, any property that was gotten through illegal means must be returned or turned over to the government. Or, the courts can order that the defendant give up other property if the property in question cannot be found.