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AEDAP and Judicial Bias

RICO Used to Nab Sex Traffickers

Today the Eleventh Circuit handed down a fascinating RICO case involving a cult leader who, along with his followers, shipped little girls back and forth to perform sexual favors.  United States v. Dwight D. York.  It has two of the big topics of white collar crime covered - RICO and structuring.  Add in mail and wire fraud, and you'll basically have a working knowledge of white collar crime.

A typical Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act case has dozens of sub-elements.  And there is a lot of law to learn.  But the law falls nicely into place if you remember two things.  First, RICO doesn't just apply to the mob.  RICO makes it illegal to use any organization to commit crimes, or to commit crimes to take control of an organization, or to spend money gained through racketeering.  An organization can be a business or street gang.  Any affiliation of people that has structure and hierarchy is an organization under RICO.  Second, it has very little to do with what you and I would define as "racketeering."

Specifically, RICO prohibits any person or organization from (1) using or investing money gained from a pattern of racketeering activity; (2) acquiring or maintaining control of an organization through a pattern of racketeering activity; (3) conducting affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity; or (4) conspiring to do (1)-(3). "Racketeering activity" - also known as predicate acts - includes dozens of felonies, including the Mann Act.  (The good part of the Mann Act makes it a crime to ship children across state lines.  The bad part of it makes it a federal crime for an 18-year-old boy to drive across state lines to have sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend.)  A "pattern" generally means two predicate acts spanning anywhere from at least seven months to 10 years.  Thus, if York used his religious cult to ship two kids across state lines over a seven-month to 10-year period, then he's liable under RICO.

Here, York used an organization (United Nation of Nuwaubian Moors) to ship children from Georgia to New York for their members to have sex with them.  He was thus properly convicted under RICO.

I enjoy talking about white collar crimes, so I hope to discuss structuring later today or tomorrow.

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