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In my diary UPDATED: Mr. Christie meet Mr. RICO I put forth the idea that things might lead to the US Attorney looking at RICO violations in the developing scandals coming out of New Jersey. BTW, it is time to drop "Bridgegate" and start calling the scandals "Jerseygate" or "Christiegate" or something else.

My diary was received with a generally good response, getting me on the Rec list. I appreciate everyone who T&Red the diary. We also had a very interesting comment thread, which to my surprise got pretty heated. There was some blowback from a few lawyers, but to my surprise, not for a lack of "briefing" it in more detail. No, it was just for the idea that RICO might even be in play. This might have been in part for a lack of explaining, and documenting, concept of RICO. Thus, I want to flesh out the issue a little more.  

Things in Jerseygate are moving at a very fast pace. It is almost impossible to even keep up with them. Here are some other very good diaries that discuss current developments:  

Christie Used Sandy Funds for Samson

PA Chairman Samson had a keen interest in the Fort Lee Bridge Traffic -- Just not in Fixing it

New allegation of withholding New Jersey Sandy relief money for political purposes

There is also this, Hoboken Mayor: Christie Team Shook Us Down for Sandy Relief.

First the caveats: it is still early even if it feels like it has been forever, these are only allegations and nothing has been proven. Okay, we got that out of the way, lets get onto the topic.  I will be relying on the US Attorney's Criminal Resource Manual for a great deal of this analysis.

Section 9-110.100 to the Organize Crime and Racketeering states:

On October 15, 1970, the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 became law. Title IX of the Act is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statute (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968), commonly referred to as the "RICO" statute. The purpose of the RICO statute is "the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce." S.Rep. No. 617, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. 76 (1969). However, the statute is sufficiently broad to encompass illegal activities relating to any enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Emphasis mine
So although the primary focus of the statute is to fight the "mob" from infiltrating legitimate businesses, it can be used "relat(ed) to any enterprise affecting interstate commerce. The authority of Congress to regulate such crimes flows from the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution. At this point we do not know the full extent of the enterprise. However, the focus is on the Governor's Office of the State of New Jersey, and the tentacles that run out from it into the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. They now also appear to be running to very large and influential business in the states of New York and New Jersey.

So contrary to many people's belief, RICO can be, and has been, used to go after "non-mob" enterprises, and as will be discussed in more detail below, these include governmental organizations.

The Dept. of Justice guidelines state that RICO is only to be used in exceptional circumstances:

It is the purpose of these guidelines to make it clear that not every proposed RICO charge that meets the technical requirements of a RICO violation will be approved. Further, the Criminal Division will not appro ve "imaginative" prosecutions under RICO which are far afield from the congressional purpose of the RICO statute. A RICO count which merely duplicates the elements of proof of traditional Hobbs Act, Travel Act, mail fraud, wire fraud, gambling or controlled substances cases, will not be approved unless it serves some special RICO purpose. Only in exceptional circumstances will approval be granted when RICO is sought merely to serve some evidentiary purpose.
Clearly people of good will can have differing opinions as to the fact of whether the current situation meets the extraordinary circumstances necessary to use RICO. I believe this is an exceptional case, or more precisely could be, as the facts are more fully developed.
9-110.310
Considerations Prior to Seeking Indictment gives us the criteria for deciding whether to seek a RICO indictment. This is not to be confused with what makes up the elements of a RICO violation, but guides a USA as to whether they should go down the RICO road.

Except as hereafter provided, a government attorney should seek approval for a RICO charge only if one or more of the following requirements is present:

1.RICO is necessary to ensure that the indictment adequately reflects the nature and extent of the criminal conduct involved in a way that prosecution only on the underlying charges would not;

2.A RICO prosecution would provide the basis for an appropriate sentence under all the circumstances of the case in a way that prosecution only on the underlying charges would not;

3.A RICO charge could combine related offenses which would otherwise have to be prosecuted separately in different jurisdictions;

4.RICO is necessary for a successful prosecution of the government's case against the defendant or a codefendant;

5.Use of RICO would provide a reasonable expectation of forfeiture which is proportionate to the underlying criminal conduct;

6.The case consists of violations of State law, but local law enforcement officials are unlikely or unable to successfully prosecute the case, in which the federal government has a significant interest;

7.The case consists of violations of State law, but involves prosecution of significant or government individuals, which may pose special problems for the local prosecutor.

The last two requirements reflect the principle that the prosecution of state crimes is primarily the responsibility of state authorities. RICO should be used to prosecute what are essentially violations of state law only if there is a compelling reason to do so.

Arguably all of the above might be relevant, but I will focus on the criteria that I think are the most important.
3.A RICO charge could combine related offenses which would otherwise have to be prosecuted separately in different jurisdictions;
At this point there appear to be so many criminal charges that you need a spreadsheet to keep track of them. They are all egregious on their own, but when you consider that they all appear to be coming from the same source, it an even bigger deal. Certainly they can all be punishable individually, but given the possibility that the multiple sentences would be served concurrently, do we really get the right level of punishment?  Those who wish to engage in Pay-to-Play must be sent a message that this will no longer be allowed. It is intolerable at the local level like a city, but it is unfathomable that anyone would not agree that it cannot a state level.

The other two criteria go hand-in-hand.

6.The case consists of violations of State law, but local law enforcement officials are unlikely or unable to successfully prosecute the case, in which the federal government has a significant interest;

7.The case consists of violations of State law, but involves prosecution of significant or government individuals, which may pose special problems for the local prosecutor.

Any state would have a very difficult time investigating and prosecuting what appears to be a widening web of corruption. Staffing and budgetary resources would be stretched to the absolute limit. In addition, the complex nature of the evidence and laws would require a team of investigators and prosecutors with expertise that in most cases would only be at the federal level.  

We also have government officials who are at the core of these scandals. But for New Jersey it is even more imperative that the feds are involved and that they bring each and every one of their weapons to this battle. The Attorney General is appointed by the Governor. The Attorney General's office is thus answerable directly to the Governor. The AG's office has a great deal of control over the local prosecutors' offices so the possibility of interference is extremely high. If there is no statute in New Jersey for an independent prosecutor then there is no way to ensure a thorough and independent investigation of this case.

Also, there is the issue that the Governor appoints the judiciary. It doesn't take much imagination to realize that a judge who is where they are would not be willing to give the person who put them there the benefit of the doubt, or more. The same is true of that person's close associates, friends, minions, cronies, and so on.

So, now to the kinds of crimes that can bring on a RICO charge(s). Remember, the purpose of RICO is to increase the punishment of someone who has done a series of crimes in concert with other people, i.e. an enterprise. Criminal punishment includes 20 yrs for each RICO conviction, and fines. In addition, civil forfeitures of property derived from illegal activity can occur thus depriving the individual of the benefits of their crimes. The definition of racketeering is:

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 659 (relating to theft from interstate shipment) if the act indictable under section 659 is felonious, section 664 (relating to embezzlement from pension and welfare funds), sections 891–894 (relating to extortionate credit transactions), section 1028 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents), section 1029 (relating to fraud and related activity in connection with access devices), section 1084 (relating to the transmission of gambling information), section 1341 (relating to mail fraud), section 1343 (relating to wire fraud), section 1344 (relating to financial institution fraud), section 1351 (relating to fraud in foreign labor contracting), section 1425 (relating to the procurement of citizenship or nationalization unlawfully), section 1426 (relating to the reproduction of naturalization or citizenship papers), section 1427 (relating to the sale of naturalization or citizenship papers), 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), section 1542 (relating to false statement in application and use of passport), section 1543 (relating to forgery or false use of passport), section 1544 (relating to misuse of passport), section 1546 (relating to fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents), sections 1581–1592 (relating to peonage, slavery, and trafficking in persons)., [1] section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion), section 1952 (relating to racketeering), section 1953 (relating to interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia), 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), section 1960 (relating to illegal money transmitters), sections 2251, 2251A, 2252, and 2260 (relating to sexual exploitation of children), sections 2312 and 2313 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles), sections 2314 and 2315 (relating to interstate transportation of stolen property), section 2318 (relating to trafficking in counterfeit labels for phonorecords, computer programs or computer program documentation or packaging and copies of motion pictures or other audiovisual works), section 2319 (relating to criminal infringement of a copyright), section 2319A (relating to unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances), section 2320 (relating to trafficking in goods or services bearing counterfeit marks), section 2321 (relating to trafficking in certain motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts), sections 2341–2346 (relating to trafficking in contraband cigarettes), sections 2421–24 (relating to white slave traffic), sections 175–178 (relating to biological weapons), sections 229–229F (relating to chemical weapons), section 831 (relating to nuclear materials), (C) any act which is indictable under title 29, United States Code, section 186 (dealing with restrictions on payments and loans to labor organizations) or section 501 (c) (relating to embezzlement from union funds), (D) any offense involving fraud connected with a case under title 11 (except a case under section 157 of this title), fraud in the sale of securities, or the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), punishable under any law of the United States, (E) any act which is indictable under the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, (F) any act which is indictable under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 274 (relating to bringing in and harboring certain aliens), section 277 (relating to aiding or assisting certain aliens to enter the United States), or section 278 (relating to importation of alien for immoral purpose) if the act indictable under such section of such Act was committed for the purpose of financial gain, or (G) any act that is indictable under any provision listed in section 2332b (g)(5)(B);
18 U.S. Code § 1961 - Definitions

I apologize for such a large block of information in the above blockquote, but I want to avoid the possibility of select quoting. What is necessary is that two or more of the above "predicates" must be in relation to a number of state or federal crimes.

In the diary thread we had a very heated discussion of whether the actors in Jerseygate would comprise an "enterprise" under RICO. I think it is pretty obvious that it is, but I want to give an H/T to CenPhx who provided an number of cases on this subject. I hope CenPhx doesn't mind but I am going to borrow that material here:

See, e.g., United States v. Cianci, 378 F.3d 71, 79-88 (1st Cir. 2004) (an association-in- fact of the office of Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island and other city agencies); United States v. Blandford, 33 F.3d 685, 703 (6th Cir.) (Office of the Representative for House District 14 together with individuals employed therein), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1095 (1995); United States v. McDade, 28 F.3d 283, 295-96 (3d Cir.) (Congressman McDade and his Congressional offices in Washington, D.C. and in the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1003 (1995); United States v. Freeman, 6 F.3d 586, 596-97 (9th Cir. 1993) (Offices of the 49th Assembly District), cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1077 (1994); United States v. Thompson, 685 F.2d 993 (6th Cir. 1982) (en banc) (applying RICO to the Tennessee Governor's Office, but questioning the wisdom of not defining the enterprise in the indictment as a “group of individuals associated in fact that made use of the office of Governor of the State of Tennessee”), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1072 (1983); United States v. Long, 651 F.2d 239, 241 (4th Cir.) (office of Senator in the South Carolina legislature), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 896 (1981); United States v. Sisk, 476 F. Supp. 1061, 1062-63 (M.D. Tenn. 1979), aff’d, 629 F.2d 1174 (6th Cir. 1980) (Tennessee Governor’s Office), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1084 (1981); see also United States v. Ganim, 225 F. Supp. 2d 145, 160-61 (D. Conn. 2002) (an association-in-fact of the office of Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut and other individuals); United States v. Gillock, 445 U.S. 360, 373 n.11 (1979) (“[o]f course, even a member of Congress would not be immune under the federal Speech or Debate Clause from prosecution for the acts which form the basis of the . . . [RICO] charges here”). But see United States v. Mandel, 415 F. Supp. 997, 1020-22 (D. Md. 1976), rev’d on other grounds, 591 F.2d 1347 (4th Cir.), aff’d on reh’g, 602 F.2d
 653 (4th Cir. 1979) (en banc) (State of Maryland not an “enterprise” for RICO purposes), cert. denied, 445 U.S. 961 (1980). Mandel, however, has been discredited by all courts that have considered the issue, including the Fourth Circuit. See, e.g., United States v. Warner, 498 F.3d 666, 694-95 (7th Cir. 2007); United States v. Angelilli, 660 F.2d 23, 33 n.10 (2d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 945 (1982); United States v. Long, 651 F.2d 239, 241 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 896 (1981); United States v. Clark, 646 F.2d 1259, 1261-67 (8th Cir. 1981); United States v. Altomare, 625 F.2d 5, 7 n.7 (4th Cir. 1980); United States v. Baker, 617 F.2d 1060, 1061 (4th Cir. 1980); see also United States v. Powell, No. 87 CR 872-3 (N.D. Ill. February 27, 1988) (City of Chicago proper enterprise for purposes of RICO); State of New York v. O'Hara, 652 F. Supp. 1049 (W.D.N.Y. 1987) (in civil RICO suit, City of Niagara Falls proper enterprise); Commonwealth v. Cianfrani, 600 F. Supp. 1364 (E.D. Pa. 1985) (Pennsylvania Senate).
More information can be found in A Manual for Federal Prosecutors.

Am I predicting with 100% certainty that any of the players in this show will be charged with RICO. NO. However, I do think it is not unreasonable to consider RICO as a possibility. The more information that comes out, the more likely this possibility becomes a reality as the number of potential crimes and players grow.

And one last thing. Am I enjoying watching this thing? No and Yes. No, because it shows how corrupt money has made our political system. Yes, because I love it when those in power who think nothing will ever happen to them take the big fall. If the facts prove it out, I hope the hammer comes down on the whole group of them. An to you Justice Alito, do you still think Citizens United was a good decision? Yah, I am sure you still do.

Poll

Do you think it is reasonable to discuss RICO at this stage of the scandals?

27%25 votes
62%56 votes
6%6 votes
1%1 votes
2%2 votes

| 90 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

    by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:27:21 AM PST

  •  Someone is taking (6+ / 0-)

    it seriously enough to lawyer up in a big way.

    http://www.nj.com/...

    Samson hires Chertoff.

    We should attack now when they'd least expect it #WarOnChristmas

    by AnnetteK on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:54:21 AM PST

    •  chertof worked for the PA (5+ / 0-)

      anyone else see a conflict of interest here? Ethics mean nothing to these people.

      Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

      by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:01:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No conflict of interest (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pi Li, Adam B, emelyn, VClib

        the fact that you work for an entity at some point in your life does not prevent you from forever being involved in things where that entity is involved.

        If you work for them as an attorney representing them as a client, you can't take anything (1) adverse to them at the same time you are representing them; or (2) is substantially related to the thing where you represented them.  Lawyers often represent an entity for a while, close the file, and then may be adverse to them on a different matter.

        If you work for the government entity itself then there's a time period (a year or two, depending) when you can't be adverse to them).  If it's a judge coming from that government entity, then you can't sit on a case that you worked on while there.  Think about Justice Kagan -- she was in the Administration, but doesn't recuse herself from matters involving the administration unless she worked on it while she was there.  

        •  you know, as well as i do, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Capt Crunch, FarWestGirl

          that even if there is an appearance of a conflict you ca have issues. In addition, what information might he have obtained as counsel for the PA that he might use to defend his client. The PA might have causes of action against Sampson. That is a clear conflict.

          Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

          by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:37:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No. Wrong standard. (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pi Li, emelyn, VClib, Adam B, FarWestGirl

            "Appearance of impropriety" is the standard you use for judges or for people like special prosecutors.

            He was working as a private attorney when he represented the PA, and he is working as a private attorney now.  There are very clear conflict of interest rules when you are a private lawyer.  

            If the PA is a former client, if he or his law firm does not currently represent the PA, here's the rule:

            Client-Lawyer Relationship
            Rule 1.9 Duties To Former Clients
            (a) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person's interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

            (b) A lawyer shall not knowingly represent a person in the same or a substantially related matter in which a firm with which the lawyer formerly was associated had previously represented a client

            (1) whose interests are materially adverse to that person; and

            (2) about whom the lawyer had acquired information protected by Rules 1.6 and 1.9(c) that is material to the matter;

            unless the former client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.

            (c) A lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter or whose present or former firm has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:

            (1) use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client, or when the information has become generally known; or

            (2) reveal information relating to the representation except as these Rules would permit or require with respect to a client.

            There's nothing in there about "appearance of impropriety" like there is in the ethical rules for judges.

            This rule is in the Model Rules precisely because lawyers represent new clients against former clients all the time.  If they didn't, there were be no reason for the rule.

            Unless the representation of the new client is "substantially related" to the prior representation of the PA (like it involved the same transaction or occurrence),  there is no conflict of interest.  I don't know enough about his prior representation of the PA to know whether it involved the bridge closing or not, but I would think that if it were, that fact would have come out.  But if the Port Authority thinks there is a conflict, they have a right to have him conflicted out of the new representation.  It's their call if they think there is a conflict.

            •  The PA making that call might be a (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Capt Crunch

              little difficult given Sampson is the Chair of the PA and has this guy as his private counsel. That is the problem. If the IG made that call, then I would agree with you. Also, who is going to say what he worked on, Sampson, Baroni? Again, at this point the only one I might believe is the IG.

              Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

              by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:45:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You do people here a disservice by (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pi Li, VClib

                trying to make legal arguments that are disconnected from reality.  

                In this thread, you refuse to acknowledge that you have no basis for saying there IS  conflict.  That's the point.  Where's the basis for the conflict under Rule 1.9?  

                First, before you criticize the PA for not saying there is a conflict, you have to point out -- under Model Rule 1.9 which I quoted in full above -- where there IS a conflict.  

                It's irresponsible to raise issues like saying there's a conflict of interest -- which is a serious allegation against a lawyer -- without any basis for saying that.

                Again, Under Model Rule 1.9, what is the basis for your saying that there's a conflict of interest?  

                If you have none, you should simply admit you were wrong to raise that.  

  •  The bottom line is a heavy hammer (4+ / 0-)
    The purpose of RICO is to increase the punishment of someone who has done a series of crimes in concert with other people, i.e. an enterprise. Criminal punishment includes 20 yrs for each RICO conviction, and fines.
    cue up: I'm Singing in the Rain

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:09:14 AM PST

  •  If it depends on the DOJ, forget it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nailbanger, petral

    They've made it very clear they have less than zero interest in investigating or prosecuting anything to do with Republican political crimes or wrongdoing - the appearance of 'partisanship' must be avoided, no matter the cost!

    We must look FORWARD, not BACK after all! And what Christie and his administration did is now in the PAST, so we must move on to the FUTURE. Right?

    "Do you suppose actually SEEING the candidate eat the rat could cost us the election?" - Republican campaign manager

    by Fordmandalay on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:09:15 AM PST

  •  The State of New Jersey cannot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, FarWestGirl

    Prosecute this.  Too many Christie appointees would be involved.  It sounds like the Feds could do it without RICO but.that choice seems to be available to them.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:10:23 AM PST

  •  Holder needs to appoint a special attorney (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaminpdx, OleHippieChick, FarWestGirl

    A thorough investigation of Port Authority is needed.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:16:06 AM PST

    •  Indeed. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk, emelyn, VClib

      Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

      by Pi Li on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:47:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hi Pi Li. See your still trolling and not doing (0+ / 0-)

        any of your own stuff.

        Still waiting on the answers to the questions I posed to you about your work as a prosecutor.

        Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

        by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:07:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreeing with Adam is trolling? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pi Li, wilderness voice, emelyn, VClib

          This was a completely inappropriate comment.  

          •  No, i was refering to her previous trolling (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Capt Crunch

            through other comment threads. And now popping her head in hear.

            If she thinks she is so right, she can write a counter diary. Haven't seen it yet. All I do see is her trying to hijack another comment thread.

            Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

            by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:19:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So everyone who disagree with you... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wilderness voice, emelyn, coffeetalk

              ...has to present their CV and write their own diary?

              Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a grammarian. So sue me.

              by Pi Li on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:42:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  kaminpdx - RICO seems like a real stretch to me (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Pi Li, coffeetalk, AnitaMaria

              and some of the more prominent lawyers on this site. Disagreeing with you on this issue is trolling and requires writing a separate diary? Really????? Isn't one of reasons for this blog, to be a place for thoughtful discussion and debate? Attacking people who disagree with you isn't in that spirit.  

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:18:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, I have no problem with someone (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Capt Crunch

                disagreeing with me, lawyer or not. What I do have a problem with is someone presenting themselves as an expert and dismissing out of hand something.

                Adam B doesn't agree with me, great. CoffeeTalk same thing.

                Put when someone claims, "I was a prosecutor and so I know" I do have a problem with that. She claims to be so in the know, prove it. Where is the foundation that makes her such an expert?  The only way to know that is to see what her experience is.

                And how do I know that she is a "prominent lawyer". There is nothing in her profile that supports this.

                I don't profess to be a RICO expert. I could be absolutely wrong. Someone who actually practices in and has experience in such cases tells me that it is a ridiculous idea, I will say fine. Until then, in the "spirit" of the site, I have just as much of a right to put forth something without all the disparaging language that she has used towards me and an idea I put forth.

                Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

                by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:40:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Well skepticism is a good thing, but lets try: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice, FarWestGirl

      relating to tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant),

      relating to retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant),

      relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion

      relating to bribery

      (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),

      In addition, these acts DO NOT have to be related to the same crime, i.e. say misallocation of Sandy funds. All they have to be are illegal acts committed by the same enterprise. So the Sandy funds allegations can be coupled with the GWB allegations, coupled with the allegation about improperly removing a prosecutor who goes after a crony sheriff.

      There is enough smoke here to call the fire department. You don't wait until the house is engulfed in flames.

      Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

      by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:05:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think you appreciate.... (6+ / 0-)

        ...just how much immunity governmental officials have for their official acts engaged in under color of law.   Much harder than private individuals. Also, what happened to our Whitewater-era objections to the over-criminalization of politics?

        •  surely there is a distinction (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OleHippieChick, FarWestGirl

          between acts performed for a legitimate governmental purpose and extorting a mayor into cooperating with favored business cronies, or firing a prosecutor in order protect supporters he has already indicted.  Of course a prosecutor would have to prove impermissible motivation.

        •  Now, now.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bearsguy, FarWestGirl

          Whitewater was litigated and it had absolutely NOTHING to do with an abuse of government power.

          Regardless of whether the Clintons did or did not profit from Whitewater, it was, at best, a 'sweetheart' deal.....that lost the Clintons money.

          Frankly, I am more bothered by members of Congress and their staffers who can trade on what would be considered 'inside information' to everyone else.

          As to whether or not the actions of the Christie administration clear the burden of being considered a RICO case, I'll wait for the determination(s) from Reid Schar who was hired by New Jersey General Assembly.

          That being said, at this point in time, I am starting to get a feeling that there might be enough to clear the RICO hurdle.  Plainly and simply, it just seems as if too many high ranking officials within the Christie administration and his political appointees were and are acting as if being part of a corrupt enterprise.  Is it all criminal - I really do not know.

          However, either everyone else (Mayor Fulop, Mayor Zimmer, Brent Schundler, Bennett Barlyn, etc.) is lying, or the proven liars within the Christie administration are simply caught up in the worst case of misunderstandings ever witnessed.

          And yes, we can prove that people are lying.  Rachel Maddow has shown as much.  Particularly, Baroni lied and was fired.  Nevertheless, Governor Christie continued to cling to the phantom traffic study in his presser.  The lies may not be criminal in nature, but they sure seem to be covering up a web of chronic deceit.

          •  Not all bad or corrupt acts are criminal (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Pi Li, coffeetalk, VClib, 6412093

            And the State of New Jersey doesn't get to prosecute RICO; the federal government does.

            •  Clearly, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bearsguy, FarWestGirl

              I made multiple distinctions between corrupt and criminal.

              Matter of fact, my last sentence was, "The lies may not be criminal in nature, but they sure seem to be covering up a web of chronic deceit."

              As to the degree of possibly criminality, I said, "I'll wait for the determination(s) from Reid Schar who was hired by New Jersey General Assembly."

              I fully recognize that this is a State Assembly investigation.  But should Mr. Schar find enough evidence of wrong-doing (criminal or otherwise), his suggestion(s) may well include turning over the information to Federal investigators who have more resources and even more tools for making a criminal case - RICO being one of those tools.

              Plenty of state-level criminal cases are subsequently handed over to the Department of Justice.  In some instances, the case can be taken over by the Federal authorities.  Personally, I imagine that AG Holder (the chicken that he is) will not be aggressive in wanting to take over a politically charged case.

              But you should stop being defensive just to be defensive.

              And stop concluding that you know this matter will not rise to the level of RICO.

              Frankly, too many shoes are dropping on a daily basis from big city mayors in NJ.  At some point, even a nonpartisan individual has to ask themselves how Governor Christie could not be in the know about corrupt actions by people at the very highest ranks of his administration.  Corrupt does not equal criminal, but the lies and deceit after the fact are really starting to pile up.  These subsequent actions that whiff of cover-up are more likely criminal.  These lies and deceit lead straight to Governor Christie who held on to the traffic study as late as his press conference.

              Therefore, your making a declaratory statement that the web of corruption that has so far been made public does not rise to the level of RICO is simply your opinion (and of Pi Li as well).

              Plainly and simply, your conjecture is just as accurate as anyone else.

              Finally, the implication made by Mayor Zimmer may be the missing piece of the puzzle that likely raises the shenanigans of the Christie administration to RICO level - money.

              •  My reasoning is based on the criminal statutes (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                coffeetalk, Pi Li, 6412093, VClib

                Show me a criminal statute that's been violated and you'll attract my attention. And just because "money" is involved doesn't prove anything.

                •  crap, when HUGE amounts of (0+ / 0-)

                  $ is involved, we should all be suspicious.

                  Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

                  by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 12:07:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I'll start with the most basic (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bearsguy

                  First, let me state I am not an attorney and I cannot nor will I supply the specif criminal codes.

                  But we know that there was a conspiracy with Bridget Ann Kelly, David Wildstein, and Bill Baroni that violated the federal rights of free passage.

                  Of course, there is also the misuse of their positions as government and quasi-government officials - criminal violations of state laws.

                  And these criminal transgressions were uncovered based simply on the highly redacted e-mails of just one of the players and in just this one instance.

                  We also know that multiple people have lied about the details of the lane closures.  These people would all be guilty of obstruction of the state investigation and/or conspiracy to obstruct.

                  So, on just the matter of lane closures, I'll say it again - I'll wait for any additional criminal determinations from Mr. Schar.

                  But I will add, that only after yesterdays allegation by Mayor Zimmer, I now believe the lane closure plan may have been a failed attempt for Wolff & Samson (or some other politically connected firm) to receive nothing short of extorted legal fees.  Illegal or just another piece of a puzzle that simply shows corruption?  I'll wait for Mr. Schar.

                  Further, I will bet dollars-to-donuts that there is a federal criminal statute for violating the Stafford Act and/or the others I mentioned for appropriating funds to NJ in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy only as quid pro quo.  If Mayor Zimmer is being truthful, then we have additional corrupt acts from some of the same players that lied about the lane closures.  And their corrupt actions gave financial benefit to the firm Wolff & Samson.  Of course, Mr. Samson is caught up in the GWB scandal as well.

                  Look, I said it at the beginning, I am not an attorney.  And I have enough sense to know that prosecutors must be able to prove that a crime has been committed.  If you're going to simply to sit at your desk and determine there is not enough evidence of criminal violations in the GWB lane closures, then I just have to laugh at your inability to determine that the facts speak for themselves.

                  And if you can just sit there and determine that no law was violated for handing over federal funds to Hoboken in the absence of a quid pro quo, then my laughter continues.

                  And if you further sit there and decide that anyone else who comes forward with evidence of additional corrupt acts by the Christie administration is lying about people who are (or will be) proven to be liars, then my laughter places me rolling on the floor.

                  Ironically, this was the same type of stuff that Chris Christie prosecuted when he was an assistant-AG.  Clearly, multiple laws are likely being broken.  But of course, that's your plausible deniability - you get to say, we cannot prove it.  I say, "Yet."

                  Lastly, and I have to ask, how many corrupt and/or illegal acts from the same players must be alleged and tied together before you would agree that the Christie administration should be subjected to RICO treatment by the Office of the U.S. Attorney?

                  •  Huh? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    coffeetalk, VClib

                    What the what is the "federal rights of free passage"?  Shifting two lanes at a toll plaza from special local access to general access violates what?

                    I agree that the facts are bad, but if you want to say that the facts are criminal you need some basis in the United States Code.

                    (Also, obviously, there's a difference between "lying" and lying under oath.  Only the latter matters.)

                    •  14th Amendment (0+ / 0-)

                      Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

                      Wiki:
                      In Saenz v. Roe (1999), the Court ruled that a component of the "right to travel" is protected by the Privileges or Immunities Clause.

                      Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, found that although the "right to travel" was not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, the concept was "firmly embedded in our jurisprudence." He described three components of the right to travel:

                          1.)The right to enter one state and leave another;
                          2.)The right to be treated as a welcome visitor rather than a hostile stranger;
                          3.)For those who want to become permanent residents, the right to be treated equally to native-born citizens.

                      Justice Stevens further held in Sáenz that it was irrelevant that the statute only minimally impaired the plaintiffs' right to travel.

                      The closure of access lanes to the GWB impaired the 'right to travel' across state lines.  My apologies for calling this notion as 'free passage'.

                      Had you simply 'googled' free passage Constitution, you would have come up with the same result.

                      Finally, I do not need to locate a criminal code to know that violating a Constitutional right is not without penalty.

                      No we're done.

                      •  FRtoB - closing the two lanes (0+ / 0-)

                        does not, in any way, violate any constitutional "right to free passage" any more than charging a toll.

                        "let's talk about that"

                        by VClib on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:55:32 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Staying in a Holiday Inn =! Law School (0+ / 0-)

                        Saenz involved a California state policy which reduced AFDC benefits for new state residents -- a meaningful financial impact on one's ability to move to a new state. The constitutional right to does not mean you have a right to enter another state without there being highway traffic. Come on. (If it did, the GWB would be a perpetual constitutional crisis. Only the third aspect of the right was implicated in Saenz.)

                        I'll ask it this way: if the Port Authority only had 10 toll booths open instead of 11 one day, and there was a slight delay in traffic, would there be a constitutional violation?

                        •  You stayed at a Holiday Inn last night? (0+ / 0-)

                          They owe you a refund.

                          The facts of Saenz do not have to be on point to be applicable.  After all, Saenz had nothing to do with slavery.  Right?

                          Please, argue that Justice Stevens never meant that the right of travel does not mean what it means.

                          Let's get the simplest of facts correct, shall we (ahem), Counselor.

                          The incident in Fort Lee was not 1 lane closure of 11.  This was 2 lane closures of 3 for the people traveling through Fort Lee.  The closures were for absolutely no reason other than vindictiveness.

                          Also, the lane closures were for the EasyPass lanes, not the cash lane.  This added to the time it took to pass through the toll.

                          In no uncertain terms, if you cannot see that closure of those lanes was an attempt to impair the right of travel, then why close the lanes in the first place?

                          But impeding the right of travel was the stated purpose of closing those GWB lanes.  We know this, because Bridget Ann Kelly told us, "Time for traffic in Fort Lee," to which David Wildstein then ordered the closure of 2 out of 3 lanes.

                          You're grasping at straws.

                          And to answer your question, had there been a necessary lane closure to conduct a traffic study, this would have been made public and mitigated the impediment of the right to travel - as the PA is REQUIRED to do under similar circumstances.  For example, albeit in another state, when the Los Angeles Freeway was closed - the public was informed for months in advance.  The same thing is supposed to happen on Port Authority access points.  Unless there is an emergency, unannounced lane closures by the Port Authority that impede the right to travel are against the law.

                          Don't take my word for it.

                          Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye wrote, "I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates Federal Law and the laws of both States."

                          Do you think you are a better attorney and/or know more than Mr. Foye, a former partner at one of the top law firms in the country, Skadeen Arps?

                          Like I've said, you're being defensive to be defensive.

                          And as I've also said, we're done.

                          •  You're the one who's grasping (0+ / 0-)

                            The constitutional right to travel is the right to enter, not the right to enter without delay.  Are toll booths unconstitutional?  They add both a time cost and an economic cost onto the right to travel.

                            Moreover, no lanes were closed; the use of two lanes was shifted from one purpose to another.  Perhaps those commuters' right to travel was violated when the lanes were shifted back to Fort Lee usage?

                            As for the Foye letter, he didn't say it was criminal or unconstitutional; he may have been referring to some regulation.

                          •  In no uncertain terms, (0+ / 0-)

                            Executive Director of Port Authority might know a thing or two about the law, considering he was a former partner at Skadden Arps.

                            His words could not be more clear, "I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates Federal Law and the laws of both States."

                            But you believe that you know more than he does.

                            Funny that, after 4 days of closures, those access lanes were opened to local Fort Lee traffic within hours after he wrote those remarks.

                            Also, as I stated quite clearly, "[T]his was 2 lane closures of 3 for the people traveling through Fort Lee."

                            The shift in purpose afforded those traveling on I-95 greater access to tolls, but people traveling from local roads near or about Fort Lee are not close to a NY bound I-95 access points.  If redirecting these folks were so easy, do you think the people directing traffic for those four days would not have done so?  People traveling on local roads through Fort Lee had their right of travel impeded.

                            But, based on a photograph, you believe that you know more than those who actually manage and/or ride on those roads.

                            And you're acting as if roads can be closed by Port Authority for no reason and/or without public notice.  They have rules.  Violation of those rules may not only be in violation of state laws and the multiple Constitutions, but federal laws which created the Port Authority to begin with.

                            But again, you are just grasping at any notion without any basis in understanding of the laws and/or by-laws governing the Port Authority.

                            Back to your question on right of entry vs. right of entry without delay.

                            Should the Port Authority need to impede the right to enter, there is a very public process that they must followed.  Nobody would question an impediment caused by construction, maintenance, and/or security needs.  On the other hand, David Wildstein and Bidget Ann Kelly had no right to delay anyone.  They were not acting on behalf of the Port Authority.  Matter of fact, Bridget Ann Kelly worked for the Office of Governor Christie and would, therefore, have no right what so ever to order David Wildstein to do anything in his capacity at Port Authority to impede, yet alone deny entry from NJ into NY.

                            So keep believing what ever it is you believe.  I believe the words of the most able Patrick Foye when he wrote, "I believe this hasty and ill-advised decision violates Federal Law and the laws of both States."

                            And when people start being indicted for their criminal behavior in these matters, I'll ask you once again, how many people from the Christie administration have to be indicted on various matters of political corruption, not just BridgeGate, before you believe RICO statutes apply?

    •  here's one (4+ / 0-)
      section 1510 (relating to obstruction of criminal investigations), section 1511 (relating to the obstruction of State or local law enforcement),
      http://www.dailykos.com/...
      "Prosecutor sacked for bringing case against Christie cronies reveals ordeal at hands of New Jersey Governor's 'mafia'."  Bennett Barlyn, who was a prosecutor in New Jersey for 18 years says he successfully obtained grand jury indictments "against Deborah Trout, a country sheriff loyal to Republicans.
      Then add to that the apparent extortion in the Hoboken and Bridgegate matters and it looks like a few.
      •  This is the one... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice, FarWestGirl

        This is the one that is most likely to cause Christie to actually be brought down, as it's the easiest to prove.

        Even if the "Christie cronies" aren't actually guilty of the crimes that the prosecutor wanted to bring against them, it's still illegal for Christie to block their prosecution by firing the prosecutor.

        For (almost) all of the other crimes the Christie regime has allegedly committed the prosecutor will need to be prove that the Christie regime was going to see from benefit from their actions.

        Blocking the prosecution is an illegal benefit all by itself.

        Of course, this would require a prosecutor to actually willing to investigate and prosecute this crime. Which the Obama administration may not be, because they hate being seen as partisan by prosecuting crimes committed by Republicans.

        Good, quick, cheap. Choose two.

        by Danack on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:17:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Keep reading (5+ / 0-)

        Section 1510 says:

        Whoever willfully endeavors by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
        No bribery here. And Section 1511 only pertains to obstruction "with the intent to facilitate an illegal gambling business".
    •  Me too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coffeetalk, Pi Li

      I don't think the DoJ will even consider RICO.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:09:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This way of doing things is not new. The 1 (0+ / 0-)

    per centers have been using this play book forever. History shows that the only time that things change is when there is a real threat to them and their position. The last time was in the 60's and they remember how to put us back in out place. Those of us old enough to remember know how they did it and many of us like OPOL look at our present situation in disgust and a great feeling of betrayal. The bright future that we had hoped would come has been crushed. We hope that a new generation of fighters will be more successful.

    I'm in the Henry Wallace part of the Democratic Party.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:48:00 AM PST

  •  I love discussing the possibility (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B

    of charging Christie with racketeering, so I don't mind that no one is making a good case for the predicate offenses.

    I am going to write my own diary now about my own civil RICO  experience, partly as a way to illustrate how limited is RICO's reach.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:24:31 PM PST

    •  with all sincerity, I look forward to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093

      your diary.

      Please don't piss all over my shoes and tell me it is raining. I know better. And you're getting my shoes wet.

      by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:57:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, kaminpdx, (0+ / 0-)

        I'm enjoying the discussion in your diaries.  If you are in PDX we're practically neighbors.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 06:02:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  kaminpdx (0+ / 0-)

          I've published "Racketeers I have known" about RICO. I dunno how helpful it will be to your discussions, but you'll see why I am skeptical.

          “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

          by 6412093 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:47:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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